Visitors can get a free look at the restoration of the Three Sisters Springs property this Saturday at an open house. The Friends of Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Inc. has partnered with the District, Crystal River Wildlife Refuge, the City of Crystal River and other organizations to offer several “free admission” days throughout manatee season in appreciation of the residents and businesses who support the Three Sisters property.
The area had been closed to the public since April as the District completed a project to stabilize the shoreline of Three Sisters Springs. But many visitors also haven’t viewed the District’s Wetland Treatment Projectadjacent to the springs. The Three Sisters property is co-owned by the District and the City of Crystal River. It is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The District constructed a wetland area in a six-acre section of the property to treat stormwater runoff and improve the quality of stormwater before it enters Kings Bay. Wetlands play an important role in the environment and have often been called “nature’s kidneys” because they help clean out pollutants that move through them.
Previously during rainstorms, nutrients and pollutants from more than 100 acres of commercial and residential land flowed through a ditch into Kings Bay, Crystal River and eventually, the Gulf of Mexico. Now, stormwater runoff is diverted through the treatment wetland, and many pollutants are filtered out instead of entering Kings Bay.
Non-native and nuisance species were removed and replaced with wetland vegetation such as bald cypress trees and sawgrass. Also, approximately one acre of the man-made lake on the property was filled and a forested swamp created. This helped to restore the habitat to a condition similar to what it would have been many years ago.
Free tours will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Free bus transportation is provided from Kings Bay Plaza (behind Sonic). Get more details here
For visitors who can’t visit Saturday, land tours are available throughout manatee season, including guided walking tours of the boardwalk and the wetlands or bird tours. Visit http://www.threesistersspringsvisitor.org for more information.