The Chipola River, the largest tributary of the Apalachicola, also boasts 63 fresh water springs, the largest number of any rivershed in Northwest Florida. The District is studying ways to improve water quality to these significant springs and decrease nuisance plant growth in its only first magnitude spring, Jackson Blue Spring (discharging almost 86 million gallons a day). A District springs inventory also counted nine second magnitude springs and seven third magnitude springs in the rivershed. All are located in Jackson and northern Calhoun counties and account for a dramatic 233 million gallons a day increase in river flow between State Road 90 and County Road 274.
The Chipola River’s major tributaries, Rocky, Dry and Spring creeks, are all runs formed from first and second magnitude spring groups. Several springs rise directly into the river and ponds, such as Merritt’s Mill Pond, increasing flow and providing unique habitat.
The District owns 7,377 acres in the Upper Chipola River Water Management Area (WMA), bordering 18 miles of the river and its tributaries within Jackson County. These include the floodplains of Marshall and Cowarts creeks, which form the Chipola at their confluence. The WMA continues along the river corridor, which is a state-designated canoe trail, to Florida Caverns State Park, just north of Marianna.
Visitors enjoy hunting, fishing, boating, canoeing, biking, camping, horseback riding and bird-watching. Also, the state park offers many multi-use trails, including the Management Trail, which continues on District lands. The District and Jackson County cooperated to develop a boat ramp and primitive camping at Christoff Landing. Also, the District awarded Florida Forever funds to stabilize and reduce runoff from Lamb Eddy Road, which leads to a popular boat landing. Recreational brochures are available from the District’s Lands Division, (850) 539-5999.