Popular park reopens
PONCE DE LEON – A newly renovated Morrison Springs is now open to the public. The 161-acre park is well known in the area, and popular with divers and nature enthusiasts across the south.
The project started in 2007 and includes a new separate boat launch area and parking. This separate launching area provides a safer environment for divers and boaters.
There is approximately 575 linear ft. of boardwalks meandering through the ancient cypress trees, and span into the springs to a diver’s launching area, a 10×10 ft. 9,000 lb. floating concrete platform.
Other improvements include restroom facilities, a pavilion with picnic area, wash stations, showers and handicap access.
There are 72 parking spaces at the entrance to the Springs which include 10 bus and 4 handicap spaces. There are 24 boat/trailer spaces located at the boat ramp.
In addition to thousands of dollars in volunteer time by Cliff Knauer, P.E. of Preble-Rish, Inc., the engineers of the project, and county staff resources, $500,000 in funds to renovate the park was acquired from a Northwest Florida Water Management District grant. The Florida Boating Improvement Program funded an additional $300,000 for construction of a new boat ramp, including paved boat ramp parking and access road. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Springs Initiative provided a $39,864 grant for the advanced septic treatment system and chlorinated well system.
Cliff Knauer of Preble-Rish, described some of the details, which includes an advanced waste-water treatment facility for the restrooms as state-of-the art, and the four storm-water ponds as above standards required for the project.
“The storm-water ponds at Morrison Springs are designed to hold five times the amount required by the Department of Environmental Protection. We wanted to be sure there would be no runoff going into the Springs,” Knauer explained.
The park was acquired by the state in 2004 and its management is now entrusted to Walton County for 99 years. The project is also part of the ‘DEP Springs Initiative;’ a comprehensive protection effort which provides funding for springs restoration throughout the state of Florida.
About the springs
The highlight of the park is a 250-foot diameter spring pool that produces an estimated 48 million gallons of crystal clear water each day and has been recorded to produce up to 70 million gallons a day. Three cavities allow Morrison’s frigid waters to surface from the underground aquifer. The deepest of these cavities, at approximately 300 foot in depth, eventually terminates in an underground chamber of unknown dimensions.
Morrison Springs is located in the most southeastern part of Ponce deLeon just inside the Walton County line. From Freeport, take State Road 20 east to State Road 81 and go north past Red Bay to County Highway 181C. Turn right and continue 1.6 miles. Turn a right on Morrison Springs Road. Click here for map
Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset.
Cliff Knauer of Preble Rish talks about the challenges involved in the renovation project: