• Allison McMillian

2,000 acres being added to Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park

In 2016, the state of Florida bought The Horn Springs addition to add 2,000 acres to the Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park. This addition contains a large portion of the upper St. Marks River, and the addition is just 15 miles south of the capital city. It starts at J.R. Alford Greenway and goes all the way through to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. This does not count the private land near the Jefferson County border.

The land alone holds 10 major springs, karst topography, basin swamps, and bottom-land forests, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. The wild life that lives there includes Black Bears and Bald Eagles. The once private land was at one point a popular hangout for high school students, according to Sean McGlynn of the Wakulla Springs Alliance.

"It's just a fantasy of little springs. They even come up on the middle of the river," McGlynn said. "It's a place that's going to bring people to the area, make us happy to live here and be a place for us to recreate with our kids. It's been private for too long."

According to the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Recreation and Parks, the land was bought to protect the "regional water resources, cultural resources, and increase public recreation an education opportunities."

The land was bought from the Natural Bridge Timberlands company with $16 million in Florida Forever Funding. There is still $1.31 million to make improvements to the land.

In December of 2017, Mike Riffle, an "avid outdoors man," attended a meeting asking the public what they would like to see on the property.

"It's a beautiful, beautiful piece of land," he said. "If you like that kind of land, the Horn Springs area is beautiful."