From the Chair – Maryvonne Devensky

Who ever talked about the “slow days of summer” was not talking about my summer…Here are some things I want to share with you:

On July 9, the SSJ Executive Committee heard Vice Chair of the National Speleological Society, TJ Muller, explain the position of the NSS in their fight against the city of Alachua over the rezoning ordinance involving 154.5 acres in Alachua. To support their case, Mr. Muller asked the Suwannee St John for assistance to help pay for the necessary geological survey that would bring more information on the cave formation that is running under the said property. The SSJ Excom voted to support this group with a financial donation, and if you would like to make a donation to the NSS for this cause, please mail a check made out to National Speleological Society with a memo of “Alachua Geo Study” and mail to Cave Diving Section of the National Speleological Society, 295 NW Commons Loop Suite 115-317, Lake City, FL 32055.

  • Thursday July 23, I participated in a meeting with a new group forming right now under the leadership of Jim Stevenson to raise public awareness and fight introducing cattle ranching, logging and hunting at Paynes Prairie.  “Protect Paynes Prairie” is the name adopted by the group on Thursday.  Please visit the facebook page of the new PPP at and sign your name to the petition. We all need to speak up to protect this beautiful State Park!!! Read the article of Paula Dockery, published on 7-23-15, where you can see that the attack on the Florida state parks is really done in a calculated manner to end up with the privatization of our Florida parks. Read:

Action needed: lots of letters or phone calls with one message “Protect Paynes Prairie for the public use. No cattle grazing, no timbering, no hunting on the Prairie”.

Please contact:

Governor Rick Scott   (850) 488-7146
Senator Rob Bradley   (904) 278-2085
Representative Keith Perry (352) 264-4040
Representative Clovis Watson (352) 264-4001
Write letters to the Gainesville Sun Editor with the same message. Short letters are best.

If you want to be part of the committee and help out with your skills and your energy, please come to the meetings. Future dates: Thursday (1:00-2:00pm) July 30, August 6 and 13, in the Oak room at Oak Hammock.

  • Sleepy Creek/Adena Ranch…Another disappointment with the decision by the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board in Palatka, on July 14, 2015 that might prove disastrous to maintaining a healthy Silver River…putting first the financial interests of an already wealthy businessman instead of protecting the water resources for the Florida citizens. See Whitey Markle’s report.
  • After the sad news, let’s look at the brighter side of life: On July 18, we had a delightful picnic at Poe Springs Park…More than 30 Sierra Club members showed up with delicious food to share, and conversations went on between older members and newer members, while some went swimming in the spring….The weather was good and we had a great time…Thank you for all who came and for the others, there is always next year!!! Here is a report from New Member Val D.
    • Impressions of Sierra Club’s Poe Springs Picnic

      Kindness and generosity were the heartbeat of the annual picnic of the Sierra Club. Roberta G. informed me of the improved condition of the spring from last year, partly due to the rain, although signs of too much nitrate pollution in the water were noted. All of the people I met were friendly and shared their enthusiasm for the gifts of mother nature and their dedication to its preservation. Food and drink abounded and happily shared among all. Stories about the joy of exploring nature, including human mishaps with dangerous critters, were shared. I laughed a lot! I especially enjoyed the fact that all generations of people were represented. In short, I had a fabulous time and am grateful to have been in the company of a unique group of individuals from all walks of life.

      New Member, Val D.

  • Summer is a time for traveling, kayaking, swimming, the beach, and reading…Some suggestions: recently read “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell (Great book…very inspiring). Now reading “Untamed” by Will Harlan, about the wildest woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island (Very wild woman…). Next books on my list:
    “The better World Shopping Guide” by Ellis Jones and “Silenced Springs” by Dr. Robert Knight, Director of the Florida Springs Institute.
  • “Water Quality Tour” I attended was organized by UF-IFAS. The 3 day tour was packed with information with Day 1. the Urban watershed of Gainesville area, Day 2 Rural watershed in Agricultural area, Day 3 Springs watershed –Poe Springs…The tour ended today and there was so much information that I cannot give a brief report. What I learned is that it is a very complex topic. One cannot just have an opinion, one needs to educate himself/herself. More tours will be offered in the fall and spring and I would encourage people to do the tours or to check the website in a few days, the presentation, maps and graphs, will be available. Dr. Mark Clark and Dr. Robert Knight are two local experts, and their knowledge is very valuable.