This is all getting a little ridiculous now, and i thought the proposed restrictions last year were bad!
Specifically, the new measures proposed in the draft EA’s preferred alternative (Alternative C) include:
- Reducing the number of special use permits issued to in-water tour operators from 44 to five at Three Sisters Springs with each permit limiting the number of swimmers to four plus a certified guide per allotted time per visit. This means that no more than 29 swimmers will be allowed in the springs at a time. This may include: 20 swimmers supervised by five guides. It also provides for two photographers supervised by two guides. As manager of the springs, the Service may authorize additional in-water access for research and management purposes on a case-by-case basis.
- Requiring special use permits for commercial photography and videography at Three Sisters Springs. Flash photography would be prohibited.
- Barring any swimming into the Three Sisters Springs using the narrow spring run during manatee season. Kayaks, rafts, canoes or other floating craft will not be allowed into Three Sisters Springs.
- Requiring swimmers to enter the springs only from a new floating platform attached to the boardwalk.
- Requiring all in-water visitors to only wear black wet suits and barring the use of fins.
- Instituting a standard of conduct for all in-water visitors to promote responsible, sustainable wildlife viewing.
- Barring swimmers from using the Pretty Sister and Little Sister areas of the water. Only manatees will be allowed in those two lobes.
- Requiring all special use permits holders to have a City of Crystal River business license.
- Prohibiting pets on the boardwalk.
- Building an elevated viewing platform to enhance wildlife viewing and make the boardwalk compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Supporting the upcoming Southwest Florida Water Management District bioengineering project to stabilize the spring’s shoreline.