The most distinctive natural communities within the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area are the rivers themselves. The Aucilla River is a blackwater river that originates from artesian springs in Georgia and flows 111 km to the Gulf. The water becomes "black" from acidic swamp discharge and surface runoff below the headwaters. A product of the region's karst topography, the river flows underground in places. Its final emergence on its way to the Gulf is Nutall Rise.

Joe Davis 
"…each is a little ecological jewel in which geology and biology have created a masterwork of natural art."
-Archie Carr

The spring-fed Wacissa is a tributary of the Aucilla. The Wacissa supports abundant aquatic life, including alligators, turtles, water snakes, wading birds, and river otters. The limpkin, now absent from many of Florida's rivers because of poor water quality, is still abundant on the Wacissa.

The Wonder of Springs

At least 12 springs give rise to the Wacissa River. Springs and spring runs have attracted humans and wildlife since prehistoric times.

Spring water issues from the Floridan aquifer, the state's major source of drinking water. Throughout north and central Florida, springs are increasingly threatened by population growth and land use practices. In Florida surface water and groundwater are one system: what humans place on the land surface finds its way to the aquifer and is eventually expressed through springs.

See  Major Natural Communities.

Photo of a prescribed burn
Jenny Novak


Management plans for Aucilla include reintroducing fire into those communities that are fire dependent, maintaining openings that can be used by wildlife as foraging areas and travel lanes, continuing to protect cultural resources, conducting inventories of wildlife species, and developing plans for the restoration of natural communities in those areas that have been significantly altered.


In places on the Wacissa River, hydrilla and elodea have replaced the native eelgrass, and mats of other non-native invasives such as water hyacinth have covered the water surface. These non-natives interfere with boating and swimming, displace native vegetation, and have adverse impacts on sport fish. The cost of removal, especially of hydrilla, is very high. In 2001-2002, 58 acres of hydrilla were removed at a cost of $26,360, and 100 acres of floating plants were removed at a cost of $12,500.



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