Thursday, November 20, 2008

Breaking News: State Saves Natural Bridge Battlefield!!


There is breaking news today from Tallahassee. Governor Charlie Christ and the Cabinet have approved the purchase of nearly 55 acres of vital battlefield at Natural Bridge Historic State Park.

The Battle of Natural Bridge was one of the last significant Southern victories of the Civil War. Fought on March 6, 1865, the engagement resulted in the defeat of a Union effort to cross the St. Marks River and preserved Tallahassee's status as the only Southern capital east of the Mississippi not captured during the war.

A small portion of the battlefield has long been preserved as a state park, but today's announcement means that key areas of the field long in private hands will now belong to the people of Florida. At a time of tightening budgets, this is a major victory for preservationists in Florida and means that the second largest surviving battlefield in Florida will now be preserved for future generations.

If you are interested in learning more about the Battle of Natural Bridge, please consider my book on the subject. It is available by clicking here.

Below is the official announcement from the Florida Forever program:


FLORIDA FOREVER AQUISTION PROTECTS CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELD
AND FLORIDA SPRING
~Florida Forever acquisition preserves 54.74 acres adjacent to Natural Bridge
Historic State Park~

TALLAHASSEE— Governor Crist and Cabinet today approved the purchase of 54.74 acres of land adjacent to the Natural Bridge Historic State Park in Leon County. The acquired parcel is significant to the protection of a first magnitude spring and features a Civil War battlefield.

“This important purchase is a part of the Florida First Magnitude Springs project and one of the top projects on the Florida Forever priority list,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Deputy Secretary Bob Ballard. “This acquisition ensures that the geological, historical and cultural integrity of this property and the surrounding water resources are preserved for Floridians and visitors from all over the world to enjoy for years to come.”

This Florida Forever project focuses on land that provides increased protection for Florida’s First Magnitude Springs that discharge more than 100 cubic feet of water per second. Florida’s springs, scattered through northern and central Florida, draw from the Floridan aquifer system, which is the state’s primary source of drinking water. Springs, with clear, continuously flowing waters, are among the state’s most important natural resources and are famous attractions. This acquisition brings the Florida First Magnitude Springs project closer to completion, with 7,844 acres of the 14,081 acre project remaining.

The property contains many karst features such as sink holes, natural bridges, swallets, karst windows and submerged cave systems. By preserving the surrounding land, this project will preserve the area’s geological significance and protect Florida’s water resources from the effects of commercial, residential and agricultural runoff and other potential impacts.

The property is also the site of Florida’s second largest Civil War battle. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and cited as one of the top ten endangered Civil War sites in the United States by the Civil War Preservation Trust. In 1865, during the final week of the Civil War, the battle at natural bridge preserved Tallahassee as the only Confederate Capitol east of the Mississippi that did not surrender to Union forces. Today, important historical and cultural, resources can be found on the property dating from the Paleo-Indian period (10,000 B.C.) to the Civil War. The property will eventually be managed by DEP’s Division of Recreation and Parks as part of the Natural Bridge Historic State Park.

Originally established in 1999, the 10-year, $3 billion Florida Forever program is the largest land-buying initiative in the nation, conserving environmentally sensitive land, restoring water resources and preserving important cultural and historical sites. More than two million acres throughout the state have been placed in public ownership under Florida Forever and its predecessor program, Preservation 2000 (P2000). For more information on the Florida Forever program, visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/lands/acquisition/FloridaForever/.

To view maps that outline the subject parcel in this purchase, visit the following links: www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2008/11/files/rakestraw_springs76.pdf
www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2008/11/files/rakestraw_springs77.pdf

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