News and Events

Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association – News and Events

Support Melrose Public Library  –  Give the gift of an even better library for our community!  The Melrose Public Library is raising funds for the expansion and renovation of the current library. We can meet our fundraising goals with your help! The Melrose Public Library renovation and expansion efforts are underway – as the Melrose Library Association is working to extend the abilities of the current library building by adding more space for community programs and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) activities for all ages.

   What the proposed expansion will include:  The new library expansion will be tailored to the needs of Melrose and the surrounding communities. The MLA plans to include: library creative commons, upgraded meeting & program space, expanded children’s area, larger teen tech space, and a quiet reflection sanctuary in the expanded building.  Read more at the Melrose Public Library!



RV Park  – Many in the lake area, especially Bradford County residents, are aware of the proposed 400-site RV Park seeking approval to develop 75 acres adjacent to the Santa Fe Swamp Conservation Area. We believe this development poses a direct threat to the Swamp and Little Lake Santa Fe, as well as the entire lake and Santa Fe rivershed. Working with the Protect our Swamp and Lakes group, a coalition of dedicated local residents who have spearheaded this effort, as well as legal counsel, Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association (SFLDA) is opposing the permit application.

More information is on the Nextdoor Lake Santa Fe social site, or by liking the Facebook site at: Protect our Swamp and Lakes – Stop the RV Park.


Update on Hurricane Irma –  Hurricane Irma passed west of Lake Santa Fe on 10-11 September 2017 bringing tropical storm force winds and two days of tropical rains. The lake level rose two feet in response to high rainfall and runoff in our region. With high winds and water levels, many docks were significantly damaged by storm waves. Flooding was a concern in some areas.  Bradford and Alachua county boat ramps were closed to limit additional property damage from boat wakes during high water. Boating and boat speed limits were not regulated, although no-wake boat speed limits were enacted during the similarly high water levels in 1998.

Weeks of hot dry fall weather helped Lake Santa Fe drop over a foot providing some relief. Lake levels could well increase to critical flood levels in the weeks and months ahead and draw further management attention.

The Suwannee River Water Management District maintains online records for Lake Santa Fe at –

Unfortunately, the District’s gauge on the west side of the Big Lake was destroyed along with the dock it was mounted to. Manual readings for Little Lake Santa Fe are available online –

Lake levels will be critical for understanding lake height trends and managing for property protection. The SFLDA is advocating for establishing a new lake level gauge and for limiting boat wakes during flood periods.


News Links



Another issue of great concern is the phosphate mine being proposed on the New River, very close to the confluence with the Santa Fe River. You may wonder how this mine could have an impact on our area, but a project of this size has the potential to draw down and pollute aquifers and rivers, and to change our North Florida natural areas into an industrial wasteland. If you doubt the long range effects of mining, consider the devastation in Central Florida, as well as the low water levels in Keystone and other area lakes exacerbated by the local sand and mineral mines. Your association is working with Citizens Against Phosphate Mining, Our Santa Fe River, and legal counsel, to protect our part of Old Florida from the environmental devastation that is phosphate mining. See more details on page 3 of our newsletter.


Thank you for speaking up for the protection of Lake Santa Fe and supporting the Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association as your advocate on regional environmental issues.


Buy DVDs of “The Lake Santa Fe Story”   Want to learn more about the Melrose area? Watch The Lake Santa Fe Story, an 18-minute documentary about our unique area, its history, and its citizens.

To order, send $10 per DVD plus $2 shipping to:
Historic Melrose, Inc., PO Box 704, Melrose, FL 32666
Make the check out to HMI, and be sure to include a mailing address for delivery.

Or, you can pick one up in person in Melrose at these locations:

For questions or further details, contact:

Keith Bollum, President
Historic Melrose, Inc.
P.O.  Box 704, Melrose, Florida 32666




Please see Terry Brant’s excellent GNV Sun op ed article on A toxic warning to Florida voters

and a letter from the SFLDA on Florida water issues that leads the G’ville Sun Readers page in the Gainesville Sun.



2017 Annual Meeting – August 11th, 2017

August is a time for summer fun, as well as the Santa Fe Lake Dwellers’ Annual Membership Meeting. We invited Lake Santa Fe friends and residents to join us for our annual elections and a review of current issues of interest. Our speaker this year was Jim Gross, Executive Director of the Florida Defenders of the Environment. After years as a top geologist at St. Johns Water Management District, Jim has an insider’s knowledge of how water policy works in Florida. His talk, “Water: Fact or Fiction?“, informed us about the state of Florida’s water, and about the agencies and politics that control this most basic resource.

2016 Annual Meeting – August 19th, 2016

A large attendance at our annual meeting enjoyed learning about Florida LAKEWATCH and celebrating their 30th Anniversary. SFLDA members Tom and Peggy Prevost have been participating since the beginning and were honored at the event. We had updates from FWC on Fisheries Management Activities on Lake Santa Fe.  Our board covered recent important issues regarding our lake area and MBCA President and lake resident Joe Rush spoke on Living Safely with Alligators. Our meetings are always informative and fun social events, and great opportunities for members to voice their concerns.

2016 Winter Social/Chili Supper

We held our annual social on January 22 at the Trinity Parish Hall.  We had a large attendance of members and other Santa Fe lake lovers.  The SFLDA board provided updates on Plum Creek, Melrose fire station, and other local lake issues.

2015 Annual Meeting – 24 July 2015 Trinity Parish Hall, Melrose  

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists Ryan Hamm and Steven Hooley described the FFWCC, Division of Freshwater Fisheries’ activities on Lake Santa Fe in a presentation titled “Santa Fe Lake Fisheries Population: Methods, Results and Discussion.” These activities include sampling fish populations, analyzing fisheries population dynamics, and habitat improvement projects. They addressed questions concerning fish populations, sampling methods, and efforts by FFWCC to improve sport fishing in Santa Fe Lake.


On January 16, the Board of Directors again prepared chili & cornbread along with tempting desserts to a large crowd of 90-some folks at Trinity Episcopal Parish Hall in Melrose.  In addition to the fellowship and good food, we shared vital information on some of the issues your association is monitoring, including the Plum Creek development plan just down the road; continued efforts to create a Special Area Plan for Melrose to preserve our lake life and surrounding community; and the progress on the MFL being developed for Lake Santa Fe by our Suwannee River Water Management District. We also celebrated the passage of the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, and will continue to work for the acquisition of additional conservation properties proposed in our Lake Santa Fe Florida Forever Project. Finally, we heard an update on the video-in-progress about our lake and area that we got a preview of at the Annual Meeting in August.

2014 SFLDA Annual Meeting  

We held our Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Annual Meeting on 22 August at Trinity Episcopal Yerkes Parish Hall, Melrose. Officials from the Suwannee River Water Management District, John Good and Louis Mantini, gave a presentation on Minimum Flows and Levels (MFL), a system designed to maintain, and when needed, restore healthy surface water bodies in Florida.  The attempt to resolve the violated MFLs in Lake Geneva is an issue your board has been actively involved in, and we continue monitoring numerous MFL issues in Florida.  We have recently been informed that an MFL is being developed for Lake Santa Fe and John and Louis informed us about the steps required to establish an MFL.  More info on our meeting and excellent program is included in the August 2014 Newsletter.


On Friday, January 24th we held our 12th Annual Winter Social at Trinity Episcopal Parrish Hall, where your Board of Directors again prepared our famous chili-cornbread supper. In addition to the fellowship and good food, we presented vital information on the Association’s areas of activity including the Plum Creek development plan that covers 65,000 acres and 10, 500 homes; efforts to create a Special Area Plan for Melrose to preserve our lake life and surrounding community; and the status of our efforts with the Water Management Districts and Alachua County. We also had a special guest, Rick Copeland, Director of AquiferWatch.  AquiferWatch is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to using citizen volunteers to obtain groundwater data and to educate the citizens of Florida about groundwater issues in our state.  They are searching for volunteers to obtain groundwater levels at no cost to the citizens.  Aquifer Watch staff will gladly visit you, check out your well, and train you in the science of taking water levels.  For more info, go to  or contact Rick Copeland at (850) 559-7199,

2013 SFLDA Annual Meeting

Summer is the time for your lake community to come together for the Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Annual Membership Meeting, where we elect our Board of Directors for the upcoming year and catch up on the latest news in our area. We convened on August 16th, at the Yerkes Parrish Hall of Trinity Episcopal Church in Melrose, our traditional meeting place for many years. Our speaker this year was local biologist and world-renowned cave diver Tom Morris. His presentation was of interest to all in our area who love our lakes and like to learn more about them . Tom’s knowledge of Florida’s aquifer system has been gained by many years of exploring and documenting what to the rest of us remains the great unknown. Tom’s talk focused on: “A look at the physiographic setting (geology and geography) of Lake Santa Fe in comparison of the physiography of the sandhill lakes of the nearby trail ridge. It will include a discussion of the origins and the hydrology of the lake.” By trade Tom is a biologist whose career has been concentrated in Florida. He is also very interested in the geological aspects of the state. Tom is one of the world’s top cave divers, diving places like the Bahama’s Blue Holes, Mexico’s cenotes, and most, if not all, of the springs of North Florida. This has allowed him to see and study a part of the world most of us will never see and can ony imagine. Tom will share slides with us of some of his many dive experiences.

More info in the August 2013 SFLDA Newsletter  – click for more Santa Fe Lake Dwellers info, and an invitation to send in your annual membership.  

2012 SFLDA Annual Meeting

Our 2012 annual meeting was held at Trinity Parrish Hall on 24 August 2012, 7:00-9:00pm, Melrose, FL.  Renowned Springs Ecologist Bob Knight spoke on A New Approach to Water Management in Northeast Florida: More than fifty years of ineffective water management in northeast Florida has resulted in low lake and aquifer levels, reduced spring flows, increased flooding, and water shortages. A North Florida Water War is looming on the horizon with organization of FLOW – Florida Leaders Organized for Water and their interest in challenging JEA’s consumptive use permit. This presentation highlighted a variety of environmental impacts that have resulted from water mis-management and suggest a path forward to avoid the water war mine field that lies close at hand. A good first step in correcting these problems would be to construct a regional water balance to estimate how much water can be utilized by society after all environmental needs are met. This sustainable yield would result in stable lake and aquifer levels within normal climatic bounds and would insure adequate spring and river flows even during foreseeable droughts. It is likely that implementation of this new strategy would require a significant reduction and redistribution of existing consumptive use permits and the development of new and sustainable surface water supplies. The total amount of water that humans are currently using will need to be reduced through conservation, appropriate pricing, and shared sacrifice.

Dr. Robert Knight is an environmental scientist with more than 35 years of professional experience in Florida. He is the founder and director of the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute, a nonprofit program dedicated to supporting science and education necessary for restoration and wise management of Florida’s artesian springs. Dr. Knight is an adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences at the University of Florida where he teaches a graduate-level course on the ecology of springs. Dr. Knight is also currently active on springs restoration efforts throughout North Florida, and is on the Board of Directors for both the Silver River Alliance and the Wakulla Springs Alliance, two citizen advocacy organizations.

More details in the SFLDA August 2012 Newsletter.

Fourth of July Float Boat Parade

The Fourth of July Float Boat Parade was held at 11:00 AM. Boats gathered at the entrance to the Lake Santa Fe Boat Ramp, Alachua County, at the south end of Big Lake Santa Fe. Volunteers in kayaks were on hand directing traffic. The circumnavigation goes counter-clockwise along the shore of both lakes. Dock are great for viewing the brightly decorated boats go by. Or when the red, white and blue boats motor by, feel free to jump in your own vessel and come along! Thanks to MBCA for organizing this event this year!

2012 Santa Fe LakeFest and Clean-up, Melrose Bay Park

Santa Fe Lake Clean-up – The 13th Annual Santa Fe LakeFest was held at the Melrose Bay Park on 31 March 2012. Our lakeside event is a fun day of hands-on activities and nature oriented displays, kayaks to try out on the Bay, gardening and composting advice, and free pontoon boat rides. Some of our area’s most talented singer-songwriters, including David Beede and Whitey Markle, entertained with their original music celebrating our unique part of Florida. As always, we had face painting and art activities for the kids’ enjoyment. We were also pleased to have Keystone Heights Culinary Arts students cooking up burgers and hot dogs again this year, with their luscious strawberry shortcake for dessert! Fritzi Olson of Current Problems, originator of our LakeFest event, again managed the Clean-up at the Trout Street Boat Ramp (Melrose Bay). Many residents brought lakeside harvested collections of exotics, recyclables, refuse, or evidence thereof, to the ramp. 2012 LakeFest.3Last year we chose the threat of exotic plants as the theme for our LakeFest. This year we focused on our endangered water supply, and on much needed water conservation initiatives. As always, a great opportunity to come out and talk to some of the folks who have been working to protect this most basic of our natural resources, and learn how you can stay current on the latest developments on this issue.

Details in the March 2012 Newsletter For additional information, please call Jill McGuire at 352-475-1567.


Each summer the Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association has its annual business meeting in Melrose. The 2011 Annual Meeting was held on Friday, August 26th, at the Trinity Episcopal Church on S.R. 26 in Melrose. This is always a fun and informative meeting for local lake issues. We had informative talks from Ryan Hamm, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Biologist in charge of Aquatic Plant Management and Permitting, who educate us about problem plants such as torpedo grass and some beneficial native grasses. Ryan also explained about some methods to tackle invasive plants, and let us know how to get a removal permit (it is easy and free!) through his department. Our second speaker was Wendy Wilbur, Alachua County Extension Agent. She is known to many of you through her many gardening columns in the Gainesville Sun and through the Master Gardener’s program which she runs for the county.

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