Lake Santa Fe is designated by the State of Florida as an Outstanding Florida Water which, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, means it is “worthy of special protection because of its natural attributes.” The lake covers approximately 5,856 acres and, along with the 7,046-acre Santa Fe Swamp at the north end of the lake, is considered the headwaters of the Santa Fe River, the largest tributary of the mighty Suwannee River.
The intent of the state’s Outstanding Florida Water designation is to “prevent the lowering of existing water quality.” Many scientists feel that we cannot sustain our high water quality indefinitely on Lake Santa Fe, unless we all undertake steps to curb the impact we are having on our precious lake. Isn’t this what unites us all – the need to protect the quality of our water?
Whether you live on Lake Santa Fe, or visit it regularly, you surely appreciate the natural beauty of our lake ecosystem. The responsibility for the present and future health of our lake depends on every one of us, as caretakers of our Outstanding Florida Water. Please take a few moments to explore this web site, intended to be both interesting and informative. Perhaps by increasing our awareness, we will more fully understand the delicate balance between our activities and the health of our lake.
REGULAR EVENTS OF SFLDA
See the SFLDA News and Events page for our current newsletter and details on upcoming events.
SFLDA Annual Meetings
Each summer the Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association has its annual business meeting at the Trinity Episcopal Church on S.R. 26 in Melrose. This is always a fun and informative meeting for local lake issues. At previous meetings we have had informative talks from Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission biologists in charge of Aquatic Plant Management and Permitting, who spoke about problem plants, such as torpedo grass, and methods to tackle these and other invasive plants, and how to get a removal permit. Other speakers from the Alachua County Extension Office and Master Gardeners presented information on local landscapes.
Every winter we have a Social with less business and more time for interaction among members. The Annual Chili and Cornbread Supper is held at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Melrose. Among the many interesting programs for this annual event have been films and presentations on springs, lake geology and water resources. It is always a lovely evening of fellowship and good food.
Annual Santa Fe LakeFest and Clean-up Melrose Bay Park
Beginning in 2000, when Fritzi Olsen of Adopt-A-River suggested it to the Board, the annual Santa Fe LakeFest and Clean-up was held each spring on Melrose Bay Park. On the last Saturday in March, local civic organizations, interested citizens, and volunteers living on the lake went out and collected trash (and water hyacinths or other invasives) along the shore. Over the years we have had many successful clean ups. In recent years the amounts collected decreased dramatically, hopefully because our past efforts had an impact. After 2012 we decided to give the organized clean-up a break and decided that, due to the small number of actual lake residents coming to take advantage of the day’s activities, the association would be better served by focusing our energy and resources on our other two annual events, the General Membership Meeting and the Winter Social/Chili Supper.
Our LakeFest events were fun days of hands-on activities and nature-oriented displays, with good food, kayak demonstrations, gardening and composting advice, free boat rides to the beautiful Reynolds Preserve, and some terrific live music. Some of our area’s most talented singer-songwriters, including Dale Crider, David Beede and Whitey Markle, entertained with their original music celebrating our unique part of Florida. Face painting, an art area, games and projects, live animals, and a poster show by local children keep the youngsters busy. LakeFest themes have included the threat of exotic plants, our endangered water supply, and water conservation initiatives.
The educational exhibits, focused on lake ecology and stewardship, along with water activities, good food and great music made this a different kind of spring festival; many people said it was their favorite of all the festivals. We are forever grateful to the generous folks who gave us their Saturday, year after year, as they sat tables and exhibits, cooked food, and made beautiful music. Perhaps at a later date we will resume this event with the help of additional members of Santa Fe Lake Dwellers and the area communities and organizations. Do look for us at other events as the protection of our lake and our water supply is still our mission and our priority.
Fourth of July Boat Parade
A long-standing tradition on Lake Santa Fe is the annual 4th of July Boat Parade. Typically the circumnavigation begins at 11 am. Boats gather at the entrance to the Lake Santa Fe Boat Ramp, Alachua County, at the south end of Big Lake Santa Fe. The circumnavigation goes counter-clockwise along the shore of both lakes. Anyone interested can simply decorate your vessel and come along. Docks provide a great place for viewing.Or when the red, white and blue boats motor by, feel free to jump in your own vessel and join the parade!
Thanks to MBCA for helping organize this event.