DeFuniak Springs – Walton County Commissioners voted July 28, to seek state grants to acquire and preserve a popular and historic recreation area in north Walton County called Natural Bridge Creek. The natural spring-fed creek has been a local favorite for summer fun and recreation for generations and historically important for it’s natural limestone bridge.
Walton County Administrator Ronnie Bell announced to commissioners at their regularly scheduled board meeting that the Northwest Florida Water Management District has committed $118,000 towards the purchase of the land surrounding the creek currently owned by three property owners.
“This is great news to many citizens who want to preserve this precious resource for future generations,” Bell says, “but this funding alone won’t be enough to buy the land, and the county simply doesn’t have the funds to secure the purchase.”
County leaders recognize that the only way to secure funding is through a state grant called the Florida Communities Trust Grant administered through the Florida Forever Program, now unfunded because of state budget cuts. Commissioners voted Tuesday to send a letter to the state legislature asking leaders to restore the funding for the Florida Forever Program during the 2010 legislative session. “This is our only option,” says Ronnie Bell. “If we can’t secure a grant, we can’t secure the land around Natural Bridge Creek.”
Commissioners and county leaders hope residents will also contact their state legislators to ask for their support of the restoration of the Florida Forever Program.