Vote to allow a gas station above an underground river that feeds Wakulla Springs is delayed & commissioners ask for land to be protected by Florida Forever

wakulla springs
Wakulla Springs is one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world. Photo via Florida State Parks.

Hundreds of people showed up to a Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners meeting Monday night to oppose agenda items that would have allowed a gas station to be built on land above an underground river that feeds Wakulla Springs.

But after only a few of them spoke at the beginning of the meeting, the vote was postponed and the might end up being rejected altogether.

In addition to opposing the gas station, several speakers asked for a move to a larger venue since hundreds of people had to remain outside during a Heat Advisory. The heat index was in the triple digits for the 5:00 p.m. meeting.

After about thirty minutes of public comment stressing the potential damage the gas station could do to the county’s drinking water and to Wakulla Springs, Commission Chair Ralph Thomas called a recess. Then he proposed postponing the two agenda items related to the gas station to a later date and a larger venue. The motion passed unanimously.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Thomas also said, “I cannot promise anything but there’s a very good likelihood that we believe the State of Florida through the Forever Florida fund will purchase this land.” Thomas came to that conclusion after he met with a state representative and a representative from the company that proposed the gas station, Southwest Georgia Oil Company.

“I have spoken to our representative, [State] Rep. [Jason] Shoaf, and also spoken with a representative of the gas station. And I cannot promise anything but there’s a very good likelihood that we believe the State of Florida, through the Florida Forever fund, will purchase this land. I cannot promise that and I want you to know that’s not my decision or this Board’s decision. But I can tell you I’ve got permission to say that it’s a very earnest conversation. And so continuing this may give a chance for that to pursue as well.”

-Wakulla Commission Chair Ralph Thomas

Wakulla Commissioners unanimously agreed to a resolution to reach out to the Florida Forever program about protecting the land.

On WMNF’s Tuesday Café (8 August 2023), we heard parts of Monday’s meeting.

Listen to the whole show here:

Related story: Foes say new Florida law limiting comp plan lawsuits won’t stop their fight to save springs

WMNF’s Tuesday Café

Tuesday Café airs weekly on WMNF beginning at 10:06 a.m. ET.

You can listen live on 88.5 FM in Tampa Bay, on or on the WMNF Community Radio app.

You can watch replays on TBAE Network Channels at 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Tuesdays on Spectrum 636, Frontier 34 and Or on demand.

You can listen anytime on demand on or by subscribing to the Tuesday Café podcast on your favorite podcast platform. – WMNF’s Tuesday Café with Seán Kinane.

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