Panel focuses on saving our springs


John Moran, Lesley Gamble and Rick Kilby explore past history, document current threats and discuss Floridians' role in the preservation of Florida's springs during the Earth Day panel discussion at the Florida Museum of Natural History on April 20, 2013, in Gainesville, Fla.

Elizabeth Hamilton/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 6:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 6:54 p.m.

John Moran becomes animated when he talks about the Ichetucknee Springs.

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John Moran, Lesley Gamble and Rick Kilby explore past history, document current threats and discuss Floridians' role in the preservation of Florida's springs during the Earth Day panel discussion at the Florida Museum of Natural History on April 20, 2013, in Gainesville, Fla.

Elizabeth Hamilton/The Gainesville Sun

The nature photographer has visited the park for more than 30 years, and he said he's seen the springs worsen over the years.

"You don't have to be an expert to go to the springs and realize all is not well," he said. Both pollution and over-pumping of water are two things that are damaging Florida's springs, he said.

Moran was one of three people panelists in a discussion about Florida's natural springs being in danger. The talk took place at the Florida Museum of Natural History on Saturday, and it also featured Lesley Gamble, an art history professor at the University of Florida, and graphic designer Rick Kilby.

About 140 people attended the event, which featured presentations and a question and answer session. Audience members tossed around ideas about how to help protect Florida's springs.

Moran, Gamble and Kilby have started the Springs Eternal Project, a movement to raise awareness about saving the state's springs. The project includes a photo exhibit at the Florida Museum of Natural History. It also will include huge murals wrapped around local buses.

"Our springs are windows into the soul of Florida," Kilby said. "If we don't like what we're seeing, something is wrong with our state."

Kenneth Friedman, a UF doctoral student whose work focuses on water conservation, said he attended because he's an advocate for Florida's springs. He said he hoped the event would help "make people aware of problems and discuss solutions."

Gainesville resident Jeannette Hinsdale said she came to the event because she wanted to hear strategies about fixing the issues.

"We can't forget that the planet is our mother," she said. "She nurtures and supports us, and it has to be a reciprocal relationship."

Hinsdale said she can't look at local springs anymore because of the decline she's seen over the years.

"It's very painful to see," she said. "It hurts the heart."

Hinsdale said she thinks the best way to make a difference is to educate residents and encourage them to change their ways.

"People have to change their behavior," she said. "You can't be ignorant."

Gamble said the goal of the Springs Eternal Project is to spread information and educate people.

"We also want to inspire people to get in springs, enjoy them, explore them and listen to them," she said. "We want to mobilize people."

Moran said he wants people to keep clean water at the forefront of their minds.

"We get to decide what kind of water future we want here," he said. "The choice seems abundantly clear to me."

For more information about the project, visit http://springseternalproject.org/.

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