Starting Work 

We have finally started. The Homosassa River Restoration project is underway. And while it appears to be just starting, the work leading up to this day began much earlier. Much earlier. It began years ago.

Homosassa residents and visitors have witnessed a long slow decline in the quality of the river.  Noticeable river changes impact those who live and work near the river.

Rodney MacRae is a long time well known resident of Homosassa. He grew up here, and recalls:

The waters were so clear you could see the fish swimming by.  I can recall catching trout off the docks at the Bait House in dead of winter, snagging mullet off the same docks as they moved out the river in schools of thousands.  Bass and bream were abundant throughout the River as far down river as Hell’s Gate. Blue crabs were caught by
the hundreds off the City Dock.  It was a paradise.

This problem is heavily studied. The Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) maintains information on the river. SWFMWD describes the river’s challenges as “numerous canals and seawalls that have had a negative impact on water quality and habitat.” And they say success for the river is “Improved water quality” and “A decrease in nuisance plants and increases in desirable submerged aquatic vegetation.” Source.

The river, many have seen, is a battleground for aquatic life.

Seeking Solutions

Homosassa’s residents looked for solutions. On November 1, 2016 a group of Homosassa citizens active in assorted community programs assembled. They had been invited by Save Crystal River to view the Kings Bay Restoration Project where they could see for themselves the kinds of positive changes happening in Crystal River. They would quickly realize that a similar effort would help the Homosassa River. It was during that demonstration that the group decided to work to create a restoration project for the Homosassa River.

Some of the group that made the trip to Crystal River put together an open community meeting. In mid November 2016 at the Homosassa Civic Club, they demonstrated to the Homosassa community the Kings Bay Project. The goal was to gauge public support for a project in Homosassa.

There was a standing room only crowd. Representatives from local community groups, SWFWMD, Save Crystal River, and local elected leaders including Sen. Wilton Simpson attended. There was overwhelming support for the project coming out of the meeting.

Getting Organized

In Crystal River, a non-profit company manages the Kings Bay Restoration. There had to be a similar way to manage a second restoration. So in late November 2016 – Homosassa River Restoration Project Inc. formed and incorporated. It applied for and received Federal Non Profit (501c3) tax exempt status.

The organization’s board consists of 7 community residents and business owners, and all of its key positions were filled by volunteers. Now a team, created for the purpose of restoring the river, sought to construct and plan and obtain the funds to fuel it. It next found support at the state level.