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Saving Florida's Springs, One Rake At A Time

April 27, 2014 | WMFE, Orlando - An unlikely pairing of fraternity brothers and environmental groups could be the start of a new method of saving Florida's springs from algae.

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A group of Sigma Chi members rake the algae at Wekiwa Springs, as others grab the algae with a net. Photo: Carmel Delshad | WMFE

Rakes, muscle power, and a love of the environment—that’s what’s behind the unlikely coalition of Sigma Chi members, Friends of the Wekiva River and other volunteers who teamed up to rake the overgrowing algae from a small section of Wekiwa Springs on Sunday.

It’s the first event of its kind.

Justin Core, president of the Sigma Chi Alumni Association, says the group signed on because the job needed muscle power, and Sigma Chi needed an environmental cause.

“Being able to use our manpower to positively affect what thousands of people every year here are using to swim and raft we just thought was a great cause," says Core.

The group split into two: one group raked and loosened the algae; the other swam downstream and caught it in small nets. 

 The springs should be low in nutrients-but the high nutrients found in runoff from things like fertilizer, coupled with direct sunlight, leads to algae blooms that add a green tinge the once blue springs.

Russell Bryant is the organizer of the event.

As he rakes the algae in his section, he explains the spring’s declining condition pushed him to organize the event.

“I am just tired of waiting for public officials and politicians to do something about a place as beautiful as Wekiwa Springs is," says Bryant.

Organizers say for this to work, it has to be done on a much larger scale. But for now, they’ll wait and see if the hodgepodge mix of fraternity brothers, volunteers and rakes can help save the ecosystem of the springs.


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