The Shields Painting Difference: Perfection with Every Brush Stroke
Many painting companies in Florida rely on flashy marketing and big promises to try and attract new clients. But when it comes time to work, they fall short of their promises. This is often due to a lack of experience, qualified painters, and a drive to overachieve. At Shields Painting, we do things a little differently than other painting companies in Citrus County. We believe that a professional paint job should be as close to perfect as possible. Our goal is to leave you 100% satisfied, whether we're touching up an old residential paint job or performing a complex commercial project. It might sound simple, but we achieve that goal through honesty, hard work, beautiful results, and reasonable pricing.
As a family-owned and operated painting company in Homosassa Springs, FL, we strive to provide personalized, professional, and friendly service. Shields Painting has been in business since 1968 for a good reason. Whenever possible, we go the extra mile to make sure our customers are happy. Unlike some of our competition, we want to know all about your house or business painting project: your vision, your preferences, your challenges, and your goals. When we understand your needs, we can present you with a fantastic final product - one that you're proud to show off to friends and neighbors.
At Shields Painting, we combine our extensive experience with time-tested, meticulous painting processes, resulting in the highest quality painting results around. As a painting contractor in Citrus County, we can take on a variety of residential, commercial, and industrial projects in Florida.
A few of our most popular painting services include:
- Interior Painting
- Exterior Painting
- Residential Painting
- Commercial Painting
- Cabinet Painting
- Ceiling Painting
- Fence Painting
- Sign Painting
- MUCH More!
Our commercial, industrial, and residential painting contractors take the proper steps to protect your property and belongings while we work. Our team will clean up after ourselves, so your property is left clean and free of debris when we're done. After all, we think there's only one way to do a job, and that's the right way.
Eco-friendly & clean work area.
PDCA Certified Member.
Your Go-To House Painting Company in Homosassa Springs, FL
Your home is a haven of relaxation and solitude. It is uniquely you - a place where you can express who you are through style and design. Whether you need interior touch-ups for your crown molding or a new exterior coat of paint, hiring a reliable painting contractor is the best way to get quality results.
At Shields Painting, we know how important it is to have a home that highlights your tastes and personality. That's why we offer an extensive array of residential painting services in Citrus County. As tempting as it might be to try a DIY paint job, without the proper skills and experience, there is a good chance that the results will turn out less than satisfactory.
High-quality painting requires skill, experience, and patience. If you're a homeowner who needs residential painting services but doesn't have the time, patience, or skills to handle the job, look no further than Shields Painting. We offer accuracy, precision, and longevity with each paint job we perform. Our customers choose Shields Painting for their home because they receive:
- Free Quotes with Detailed Project Breakdowns
- Affordable Pricing
- Expert Painting Contractors
- High-Quality Paint Products
- Combo of Traditional and Modern Techniques
- Well-Maintained Tools
- Unmatched Craftsmanship
- Friendly, Personalized Service
- Good Old-Fashioned Hard Work!
The majority of our house painting services come in two forms: interior and exterior.
Interior Residential Painting
As an interior painting contractor with decades of experience, our expert technicians have developed an interior painting process that maximizes quality and emphasizes customer satisfaction. We understand that interior painting goes beyond aesthetics. It protects your ceilings and walls and helps you sustain a healthier place to live for your family. When only the finest craftsmanship will do inside your home, Shields Painting is here for you.
Our seasoned team of painting experts and craftsmen is dedicated to respecting your space and providing you with the look and feel you're craving inside your home. Whether you bought a new house and want to make it your own or need minor touch-ups but have no time, Shields Painting is ready to tackle the job, no matter how small or large.
Unlike some painting companies, our interior house painters take the time to get the details right, every time. For instance, color is only one aspect of your interior paint job. The paint sheen or finish is just as important. Certain finishes are better for living rooms and bedrooms than in kitchens and bathrooms. We'll help you find the right finish and paint colors for your home, so you don't have to worry about touch-ups or repainting.
Some of our most popular interior house painting services include:
- Ceiling Painting
- Popcorn Ceiling Removal
- Living Room Painting
- Bathroom Painting
- Basement Painting
- Color Consultations
Citrus County cabinet painting deserves its own section on this page because it requires more time, skill, and quality paint than most sections of your home. If your home's cabinets are built into its woodwork, replacing them can be obnoxiously expensive. Compared to the cost of installing new cabinets, painting your kitchen cabinets is much more affordable.
At Shields Painting, we specialize in transforming old cabinets into new, gorgeous features that are just as usable as they are beautiful. Each step of our cabinet painting process is meticulous and thorough. And we'll take care of the entire job, from cleaning, prep, and sanding to priming, painting, and reassembly. This unique service lets you enjoy a brand-new look in your kitchen without having to go into debt by replacing your cabinets.
Whether your cabinets are new, but you want to change their color or you'd like to transition wood cabinets to a painted finish, Shields Painting has the expertise and experience to give you a new look you'll love.
Exterior Residential Painting
Your home - it's a place that not only keeps your belongings safe. It protects your family and loved ones, too. It's one of your largest investments, and like anything else of value, it should be protected. However, Florida weather can take a toll on your home's structure and paint, lowering your home's value and even putting your family at risk.
While it's true that a beautiful exterior affects your house's value, it shouldn't take thousands of remodeling dollars to make a positive change to your home. There's a fine line between reasonable pricing and top-quality painting, and that sweet spot is what Shields Painting aims for. If you want to transform how your friends and neighbors see your home, never underestimate the power of a professional paint job.
Our exterior residential painting services are designed to boost curb appeal, give your home a fresh look, and help it stand up to Florida's unique weather. But we provide more than that. When you hire Shields Painting for your outdoor painting project, you will enjoy peace of mind in knowing that your home is in truly capable hands. Our goal is to exceed your expectations and help bring out the best in your property, whether you need to re-stain your deck or remove old, peeling paint from your siding.
If you're on the hunt for the very best exterior painting contractor in Homosassa Springs, FL, look no further than Shields Painting.
Some of our most popular exterior house painting services include:
- Vinyl Siding Painting
- Deck Painting and Staining
- Stucco Exterior Painting
- Wood Exterior Painting
- Porch Painting and Staining
- Soffit Painting
- Fascia Painting
- Window Painting
- Front Door Painting
- Thorough Painting Prep
The Premier Commercial Painting Company in Homosassa Springs, FL
When it comes to first impressions, your businesses' appearance plays an important role. Your commercial property's paint job factors into its overall aesthetics. A great-looking, well-maintained paint job can mean the difference between a customer walking in your storefront and passing by. Conversely, an old, worn-out commercial paint job can send the wrong message to prospective customers. If you can't take the time to keep up your property's appearance, why would a customer spend their hard-earned money on your products?
The same goes for your businesses' interior paint. Would you want to do business with a company that has peeling paint or unsightly crown molding? At Shield's Painting, our goal is to create a beautiful environment that your customers and employees will love inside and out. When you work with our business painters, you can rest easy knowing we treat your business like it were our own. We always clean up after ourselves and know that operations cannot come to a halt just because we're painting. As such, we'll work with your busy schedule to ensure the job gets done right the first time without disrupting your day-to-day commitments.
With decades of commercial painting experience, we know the demands of a commercial painting project necessitate a disciplined and focused approach from the start. Our team of business painters is committed to delivering quality, on-time results on every project, every time - no excuses
We offer professional business painting services to a variety of building types, including:
A high level of care and finesse are required to effectively paint an industrial property. At Shields Painting, we know that industrial paint jobs involve much more than aesthetics. That's why our industrial services are customized to your specifications, using industrial-grade materials that stand up to heavy-duty operations.
Retail Store Painting
Our commercial painters apply effective, yet appealing interior and exterior paint that stand up to the daily rigors of busy retail environments.
Small Business Painting
Do you own a restaurant franchise? Have a small "mom and pop" location that needs a fresh coat of paint? Shields Painting has the resources and reliability to efficiently get the job done the first time. That way, you can focus on serving your customers, not having your business repainted.
Healthcare Location Painting
From walk-in clinics to long-term care facilities, Shields Painting is sensitive to your patients' needs. We know you must protect your patient's privacy while maintaining productivity. Our approach to healthcare location painting centers around your schedule to avoid disruptions in care.
Apartment Complex Painting
Erase signs of wear and make your apartment complex or multi-family building a more desirable place to live with a stunning, professional paint job.
Florida's Most Trusted Painting Contractor
Shields Painting has been in the business since 1968. In a world where so much has changed, we are proud to uphold the ideals that make us successful: hard, honest work, getting the job done right, and excellent customer service. Providing you with trustworthy, quality work will always take priority over rushing through a project to serve the next customer. That is just not the way we choose to do business.
As professionals dedicated to perfection, we strive to provide a unique painting experience for every customer - one that focuses on their needs and desires instead of our own. Whether you need residential painting for your home or commercial painting for your business, we encourage you to reach out today to speak with our customer service team. Whether you have big ideas about a new paint project or need our expertise and guidance, we look forward to hearing from you soon.352-212-1533
Latest News in Homosassa Springs, FL
10 Natural Springs Near Tampa Bay You Must Visit for Labor Day Weekend
While Florida is well known for its stunning beaches, the state’s equally stunning Florida springs can be your Labor Day Weekend adventure. These watery treasures provide beautiful scenery, aquatic activities, and unique wildlife while giving you relief from the steamy Florida heat. Many of these Florida springs are a reasonable drive from the Tampa Bay area.Here is a list of some of our favorite Florida springs for Labor Day...
While Florida is well known for its stunning beaches, the state’s equally stunning Florida springs can be your Labor Day Weekend adventure. These watery treasures provide beautiful scenery, aquatic activities, and unique wildlife while giving you relief from the steamy Florida heat. Many of these Florida springs are a reasonable drive from the Tampa Bay area.
Here is a list of some of our favorite Florida springs for Labor Day Weekend, drive time included! Get there early, all of these Florida springs are bound to be popular over the long weekend.
Natural Springs in Florida for Labor Day Weekend
Lithia Springs in Lithia
Distance from Tampa: 30 minutes
Lithia Springs is the easiest natural Florida spring to get to, located right in Lithia near the Fishhawk area. There is a beautiful swimming area filled with cool, fresh spring water from the springs that eventually fuels the Alafia River. Lithia Springs is popular for swimming and camping, especially during Labor Day Weekend. There is a $2 per vehicle fee and then $2 per person fee to swim.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Distance from Tampa: 1 hour
With a plethora of attractions for the whole family to enjoy, Weeki Wachee Springs is more than just a state park. Buccaneer Bay Waterpark offers five waterslides, a sandy beach, swimming, snorkeling, and a special water play area for the little ones. For an active adventure, rent a tandem kayak to paddle 5.5 miles of the Weeki Wachee River‘s calm waters. Make sure to catch the Weeki Wachee Mermaids perform Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid underwater. Park entry is $13 per person.
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Distance from Tampa: 1 hour 20 minutes
Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park combines everything you love about Florida State Parks into one visit. What started off as a tourist attraction in the 1950s has now grown to be a Florida State Park. The history is quite fascinating, and remants of the old roadside attraction are apparent in places.
There are natural walkways and landscapes to explore, plus abundant opportunities to see wildlife. What a lovely way to spend Labor Day Weekend. Spot rescued wildlife like flamingos, pelicans, owls, turtles, otters, alligators, deer, and more. There are a small number of manatees year round that are kept at the park as they are not fit to return to the wild. Admission is $13 per person ages 5 and older.
FYI: If you park in the main parking lot, you will need to plan on a 15-minute tram or boat ride to the park itself. Weekends are very busy.
Silver Springs State Park
Distance from Tampa: 1 hour 40 minutes
You might think of swimming, tubing and kayaking when you think of Florida springs, but Silver Springs State Park offers a unique experience not available at other parks. The iconic glass bottom boat tours offered at this park allow you to see the springs in an entirely new way. 30-minute tours are offered daily, or you can book a spot on an extended 90-minute tour on weekends. Experience a Florida classic on Labor Day Weekend. Park admission is $8/car and boat tours are $12-$25/person, depending on which tour you choose.
Rainbow Springs State Park
Distance from Tampa: 1 hour 40 minutes
Popular with swimmers, snorkelers, paddlers and tubers, Rainbow Springs State Park offers a variety of water adventures. A designated swimming area is the perfect place to cool down, or rent a tube or kayak to cruise the picturesque Rainbow River. Tubing is accessed via a separate tubing entrance ($2 entry fee) and rentals are $20 for the day.
This is a very popular spot on Labor Day Weekend.
On land, hike the scenic walkways and nature trail to admire manmade waterfalls and colorful flora that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
For a longer tube run (we’re talking 4-4.5 hours of floating!), KP Hole is an alternate park nearby offering tube rentals.
Kelly Park / Rock Springs
Distance from Tampa: 1 hour 45 minutes
Located north of Orlando, Kelly Park is popular with tubers eager to float down the short but serene 3/4-mile tube run. Pack a picnic and stake out a sunny spot in the grass along the water after you’ve had your fill of floating down the crystal clear water. Tube rentals are available outside the park from multiple vendors (or bring your own tube — must be less than 5 feet in length or width), and park admission is $3-$5. Get there super early for Labor Day Weekend.
If tubing isn’t your thing, pass the entrance to Kelly Park and continue to King’s Landing where you can rent kayaks and hit the water. Keep your eyes out for playful otters, turtles, birds and other wildlife.
Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Distance from Tampa: 2 hours 30 minutes
Crystal clear, 72-degree spring-fed water and a fantastic tube run make Ichetucknee Springs one of the state’s best tubing spots on Labor Day Weekend. Kick back and relax for the 3.5-hour float while soaking up the scenery. Or, opt for the Midpoint Tube Launch for a shorter 45-minute to 1-hour float. Tube rentals are available on a limited basis within the park, or you can bring along your own or rent from vendors outside the park. Other park activities include hiking, swimming, snorkeling, picnicking and more.
Distance from Tampa: 2 hours 30 minutes
Located near Gainesville, this destination is one of the only places where certified divers can go cave diving in Florida. For a more leisurely activity, rent tubes and relax as you float down the Santa Fe River with your love. The facility also offers overnight rental cottages, campsites, and picnicking if you’d like to turn your visit into a Labor Day Weekend getaway.
Feauture Photo Credit: ginniespringsoutdoors.com
Things to do in Crystal River Florida this Summer
The time for spring and summer planning is now. Crystal River, Florida, Homosassa, Inverness, and Floral City offer adventures for quick getaways or active week-long vacations. Located about 75 minutes north of Tampa and 90 minutes west of Orlando, Crystal River is on the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s Nature Coast. It is easy to access while being off the beaten path for travelers. Here are five things to do in Crystal River Florida this spring and summer:1. Try Your Hand at FishingFishing is a way of life in Citrus Count...
The time for spring and summer planning is now. Crystal River, Florida, Homosassa, Inverness, and Floral City offer adventures for quick getaways or active week-long vacations. Located about 75 minutes north of Tampa and 90 minutes west of Orlando, Crystal River is on the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s Nature Coast. It is easy to access while being off the beaten path for travelers. Here are five things to do in Crystal River Florida this spring and summer:
1. Try Your Hand at Fishing
Fishing is a way of life in Citrus County, and some of the best inshore and offshore fishing guides anywhere are here, ready to share their experience with first-time anglers. These expert guides tailor fishing trips to the season, weather conditions, and desires of professional and recreational anglers. They lead the hunt for freshwater and saltwater species, with bass, sheepshead, and bluegill among the common catches near the headwaters. Citrus County is home to some of the world’s most sought-after fishing destinations, including the Chassahowitzka, Halls, Crystal, and Homosassa rivers.
One of Florida’s top freshwater fishing sites, Inland, Lake Rousseau, and the 30-mile-long Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes along the margin of the Withlacoochee River are home to large-mouth bass, white bass, crappie, stripers, bowfin, and gar. As these rivers reach the Gulf of Mexico, anglers cruise shallow grassy flats teeming with redfish, spotted sea trout, snook, and tarpon. Offshore, anglers target amberjack, gag grouper, and other species that call the deeper waters home.
2. Chase Scallops in the Sea
Plan your visit around Crystal River and Homosassa’s scalloping season between July 1 and September 24. You can meet fellow travelers here, catching their share of fresh bay scallops.
Scalloping is a fun, easy experience, an esteemed local tradition, and a Florida family favorite. Scalloping is a family-friendly underwater adventure that requires a mask, snorkel, flippers, and scoop net. While scalloping, divers can encounter starfish, seahorses, and other marine animals. A saltwater fishing license is required unless scalloping with a charter captain, so hiring a local guide is recommended. Experienced, they take divers straight to the best spots to find scallops and provide everything needed for a fun day on the water.
3. Cook Your Catch
Citrus County’s access to water gives the dining scene much of its charm, from historic fishing operations to local favorites. Waterfront dining offers picturesque views and plenty of delicious options to fuel the fun. Fishing or scalloping in Crystal River and Homosassa often includes a unique, time-honored Florida tradition: cook your catch. Hungry visitors can enjoy their catches after a full day of fishing courtesy of local chefs. Travelers can call ahead to one of the participating restaurants before bringing in your cleaned catch, and chefs will transform your trophy into a memorable meal, complete with plenty of southern-style, home-cooked fixings.
4. Take the Path Less Traveled
Travelers can choose their own path this vacation – literally. Citrus County has a system of trails and pathways for visitors to wander. The Crystal River National Refuge offers exceptional hiking via the Chassahowitzka Salt Marsh Trails. The Crystal River Preserve State Park features the Churchhouse Hammock Boardwalk, the Dixie Shores Trails, and the Lake Loop. Further east is the Withlacoochee State Forest Trail, one of America’s top-rated Rails-to-Trails cycling corridors. The trail is 46 miles long and runs through six distinct natural communities, the historic towns of Inverness and Floral City, and small towns and ranches.
The Chassahowitzka River and the Saint Martins Marsh Aquatic Preserve mangrove islands are perfect spots to paddle for those who prefer an aquatic experience. It showcases everything wild in Florida – seven rivers, crystal clear springs, open bays, and freshwater lakes seemingly going on forever.
5. Encounter Manatees, Mermaids, and More
Homosassa is home to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, one of the most visited parks in Florida. Dedicated to Florida’s native wildlife, the park’s residents include Florida panthers, American alligators, and Lu the hippo. A highlight for visitors is “The Fish Bowl,” an underwater observatory offering a view of manatees and schools of fish. The newly opened Mertailor’s Mermaid Aquarium Encounter, unique to Citrus County, is where guests can interact with various sea creatures in touch tanks and catch a daily mermaid show staged in the 15,000-gallon Caribbean Saltwater Aquarium.
For a taste of authentic local life, plan your stay for the first weekend of any summer month when the community gathers at Crystal River Town Square for “First Friday.” On the county’s eastern side, visitors enjoy exploring the Market at The Depot in Inverness every first and third weekend, bringing together more than 75 hand-picked vendors with fresh and artisanal products.
Visitors can find various lodging options, including hotels, bed & breakfast inns, vacation rentals, motels, and various campgrounds. Interested visitors can plan their getaway now at DiscoverCrystalRiverFL.com.
Funding for Homosassa River restoration hangs in the balance
HOMOSASSA, Fla. — Florida springs and the rivers they feed into are some of Florida’s most precious resources, including the Homosassa River. It serves as a habitat for wildlife and plants, and is used recreationally by both residents and visitors alike.But over the years, an invasive algae has taken hold. Now, concerns grow as funding for restoration efforts hangs in the balance.Retired firefighter Steve Minguy is the president of the ...
HOMOSASSA, Fla. — Florida springs and the rivers they feed into are some of Florida’s most precious resources, including the Homosassa River. It serves as a habitat for wildlife and plants, and is used recreationally by both residents and visitors alike.
But over the years, an invasive algae has taken hold. Now, concerns grow as funding for restoration efforts hangs in the balance.
Retired firefighter Steve Minguy is the president of the Homosassa River Restoration Project. He recalled when he first moved to the river community with his wife.
“We were about 15 years out from retirement and we were looking to retire on the water,” Minguy said. “A friend told us about Homosassa, I came out and took a look at it. I think a month later, we owned our house.”
Minguy’s boat is docked not even a quarter mile from the section of the river the locals call the blue waters.
“It is beautiful, we thought. But all the neighbors and the longtime residents kept telling us how beautiful it used to be,” Minguy said.
What You Need To Know
It was a river much clearer and full of vegetation. But over the last few decades, Minguy said the area has been overrun by a toxic blue-green algae known as lyngbya. It coves much of the riverbed and if it’s allowed to keep growing, it’s projected to kill of 90 percent of the river’s native vegetation.
In 2016, Minguy and other concerned residents learned of the same issue just north of them at Crystal River, where restoration efforts had already begun.
“We were invited up to Crystal River to see what they were doing up there and I’d say within 10 minutes of being on one of their boats, I wasn’t even listening anymore,” Minguy said. "I just decided we have to do it here at the Homosassa.”
A grassroots effort took off and the Homosassa River Restoration project was formed. The group took their cause to Tallahassee, worked and reworked plans. Finally, in 2020, Minguy says he got a call that $2 million in grant funding had come through.
“I was dancing in the living room,” Minguy recalled with a laugh. “It wasn’t pretty.”
At last, work on the river could finally begin.
A diver with Sea and Shore line uses the underwater vacuum to spot clean a growing grass meadow. (courtesy Sea and Shoreline)
The goal is to replant seagrass, so that it grows, forms meadows and takes back the riverbed. It’s all done by a team with Sea and Shoreline, the aquatic restoration company contracted to do the work, the same company working successfully on Crystal River.
The first step is vacuuming the riverbed. A diver uses a hose to suck up the algae. The water is then cleaned and put back.
“These guys are down there, sometimes in zero visibility, removing all of that,” said project biologist Jessica Mailliez. “So when the biology team comes in they have a nice natural bottom to put those plants in.”
The team uses eelgrass, which is grown in the Sea and Shoreline nursery. Often, cages are installed for protection until the plants are established enough for removal.
Already, Mailliez says the team is seeing success and manatees are feeding on newly formed meadows.
“We have a strong root hold and these plants, even though they’re being munched on, springtime next year, when the manatees move back out to the gulf, these plants will grow tall again,” Mailliez said.
And it’s not just food for the manatees. The grass provides cover for smaller marine life, helps to filter water and stabilize the riverbed. Mailliez said what the Lyngbya algae destroys will eventually affect us, too.
“A lot of people may not understand how bad this river system could be without restoration efforts. We could lose our crabbing industry. We could lose recreational and commercial fishing,” Mailliez said. “We could just lose the enjoyment of hanging out in the river in the crystal clear spring water. It will be just a downfall for the community.”
By the end of this planting season, Sea and Shoreline will have completed phase one of the project, a total of 25 acres cleaned and planted.
Minguy recalled what it was like to first see grass growing in place of the lyngbya algae.
“To go up there after all these years and to go underneath the bridge and see nothing but grass meadows, white sand and no algae was gorgeous,” he said. “We couldn’t wait to get in the water.”
It was a rewarding feeling, though Minguy said there is still a long way to go. To date, the Homosassa River Restoration Project has received a total of $9.5 million in state funding. But to finish all 53 acres of the blue waters, another $9 million is needed — even more if efforts are to continue further down the river.
Right now, that funding has stalled. An earmarked $10 million, approved in the most recent state budget, was vetoed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, despite an equal amount approved for the very same work being done in Crystal River. In fact, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, funding for the efforts at Crystal River have now reached $37 million.
“We are basically the same type of river. We have the same issues and we’re using the same project and we’re getting the same results. So it would be nice to get the same funding,” Minguy said. “However, I love it when Crystal River gets funding. That means they’re going to get their project done. I’m just hoping that down the line, we’re shown the same love.”
A manatee grazes on a now restored grass meadow in the blue waters area of Homosassa River (Cait McVey/Spectrum Bay News 9)
Hope now hinges on the latest round of grant money the Homosassa River Restoration Project has applied for: $4 million dollars in grant funding, which would allow planting to continue at least another season.
As Minguy and all those involved anxiously await word on funding approval, they worry about the possibility that the progress they’ve made will be overcome once again by the toxic algae.
Spectrum News reached out to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to find out the status of those applications.
“The Homosassa River Restoration Project and Save Crystal River, Inc. applied for $2 million in Springs Restoration funding for their respective multi-year projects,” responded Press Secretary Alexandra Kutcha, in an email. “Additionally, both groups have also requested grant funding through the Spring Coast Water Quality funding. While we don’t have an exact timeline for when these funds will be awarded, it is this fiscal year’s funding so awards will be announced in the near future.”
Kutcha also outlined the overall financial commitment that state has made specifically to springs restoration, citing $300 million over the last four years.
“This record funding has enabled the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to assist local governments and other stakeholders to identify and construct projects that are imperative to achieving restoration goals,” said Kutcha. “Two examples of this are the restoration projects at the Homosassa River and Kings Bay along Florida’s Gulf Coast.”
9 Caves In Florida (From State Parks To Hidden Treasures)
Florida is a lot more than just beautiful beaches and thrilling theme parks. You can also find some spectacular caves throughout the state, including a large state park. Although there are caves throughout Florida and more are safe, you should always practice caution when climbing or visiting caves. Still, it’s worth a drive and trip. Are you interested in visiting some of the most amazing ...
Florida is a lot more than just beautiful beaches and thrilling theme parks. You can also find some spectacular caves throughout the state, including a large state park. Although there are caves throughout Florida and more are safe, you should always practice caution when climbing or visiting caves. Still, it’s worth a drive and trip. Are you interested in visiting some of the most amazing caves on your next trip to Florida? Keep reading to discover 9 caves in Florida, some are true hidden treasures!
1. Florida Caverns State Park
One of the best places to safely see unique caves in Florida is the Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, FL. The air-filled caves are accessible to the public and you can take guided tours. The park was established in 1942 and sees over 100,000 visitors every year. The caverns are stunning and filled with stalagmites, stalactites, and flowstones. This hidden gem is worth a visit next time you are in Florida. Not only can you see a stunning air-filled cave system, but also animals like bats. Apart from the cavern tour, you can also climb, hike, camp, and horseback ride in Florida Caverns State Park.
2. Blue Grotto
Another amazing cave is Blue Grotto’s underwater cave, a private spring in Williston, FL. It is extremely accessible and perfect for divers looking for a challenge. This natural and nearly untouched underwater cave is filled with many fragile spots, so if you are diving here, keep your hands to yourself. Although this cave isn’t as large as others in North America, it’s still about the size of a football field with over 800 feet of permanent guidelines.
3. Warren’s Cave
Warren’s Cave is another incredible cave in Florida, it’s also the longest dry cave in the state. There are over 4 miles of mapped passages. Warren’s Cave is in Alachua County, FL, near the San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park. Interestingly, while this stunning cave has been popular since the 19th century, only about 400 feet of passages were marked and known by 1959. Sadly, while bats were abundant in this cave, they are rarely seen now. However, when a pool of water forms, you can see cave crayfish, leopard frogs, and cave crickets.
4. Morrison Springs State Park Underwater Caves
Morrison Springs State Park is a beautiful park to visit. You won’t get bored as there is just so much to do! One of the biggest attractions is the underwater caves. It’s one of the most popular freshwater scuba diving sites in the state. It’s open from sunrise to sunset and is located in Ponce de Leon, FL. Morrison Springs State Park offers 161 acres of fun. Apart from diving into the underwater caves, you can also walk along the boardwalk and admire the spring’s crystal clear waters.
5. Dames Cave
The next cave on our list is Dames Cave in Withlacoochee State Forest. It’s close to Homosassa Springs, and Brooksville, FL. To see this stunning cave, you need to walk a marked hiking trail near the town. The main room of the cave has an open and partially collapsed ceiling which allows sunlight inside. From this entrance, you can explore the cave deeper. The cave is small with some tight spaces and has bright and colorful graffiti on the walls.
6. Devil’s Den
The Devil’s Den might be the most well-known cave and spring in Florida. It was formed by a karst window and is located near Williston, FL. This beautiful cave is privately owned and offers SCUBA diving training. Interestingly, previously the opening to Devil’s Den was small, causing visitors to squeeze through. However, in the 1990s, the opening was enlarged which helped divers as it was open to the public. This cave also has four underwater passages. One of the most important passages contained human remains dating back to 7,500 BC. Experts also found and studied remains from extinct (Pleistocene) species. If you are interested in scuba diving here, you need a dive buddy and at least an Open Water Certification. You must also leave any rocks and fossils in place.
7. Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park Underwater Caves
Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park is a large 733-acre state park in Suwannee County, FL. The park is mainly known for its long cave system. The Peacock Springs Cave system has over 38,000 feet of explored passageways. It’s a diver’s paradise with lots to see. Interestingly, this long cave system wasn’t explored until 1956 by Vasco Murray, but it wasn’t until 1995 when National Speleological Society team leader, Sheck Exley completed the first map. The most accessible spot is the Peacock I Spring which features three tunnels with permanent guidelines. Apart from diving, you can also admire the many animals that call Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park home including barred owls, wild turkeys, and otters.
8. Leon Sinks Geological Area
Another impressive cave system to explore in Florida is the Leon Sinks Geological Area. This large underwater system is long and connects to Wakulla Springs and is within the Apalachicola National Forest. Within this area, swimming is not allowed to protect the many sinks and caves. However, while you can’t swim, you can take the trails and walk along the boardwalk.
9. Ichetucknee Springs State Park Cave Systems
Last but not least is the Ichetucknee Springs State Park. The park’s surface area is about 2,241 acres. Here, you can find Blue Hole Spring, a popular spot for divers. The cave system offers about 600 feet of passages and you can see the entrance from the surface. Blue Hole Springs is cold but filled with animals like fish and turtles. The most common wildlife animals in the state park are whitetail deer, North American otters, alligator gars, and wood ducks. If you want to dive in the springs, you will need a cave/cavern scuba and the right equipment.
Summary Of The 9 Caves In Florida
Lu The Homosassa Hippo Is Getting Older, But He Still Draws A Crowd
HOMOSASSA SPRINGS — Lu has always been the star of the show.From his days as a young, sought-after talent, to his movie and TV career in the 60s, Lu knows a thing or two about captivating an audience.Today, the aging actor is enjoying retirement in Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. But Father Time is catching up to him. Lu relies on medication and supervision from dedicated caretakers, such as Kate Spratt.“We love Lu,” Spratt said, “and he’s one of our family members, and it’s pre...
HOMOSASSA SPRINGS — Lu has always been the star of the show.
From his days as a young, sought-after talent, to his movie and TV career in the 60s, Lu knows a thing or two about captivating an audience.
Today, the aging actor is enjoying retirement in Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. But Father Time is catching up to him. Lu relies on medication and supervision from dedicated caretakers, such as Kate Spratt.
“We love Lu,” Spratt said, “and he’s one of our family members, and it’s pretty special to get to work with him.”
The feeling is mutual among Lu’s caretakers, but none have a bigger connection to him than James Curry. Curry says Lu is one of the biggest reasons why he got into this profession in the first place.
“I first met Lu in 1981 when I was three years old,” Curry said, “and I’ve been with him ever since, you know, from childhood all the way now to have worked—been able to have the pleasure of working with him for the last decade.”
Curry says words can’t describe how amazing it is to work with Lu. And Curry tries to see him at least once every day, whether that’s to help him eat, to check his health, or to just chat.
But Curry knows that if he visits Lu, he has to be careful where he stands. The last thing he wants is to be covered in hippo dung.
And with a 6,000-pound hippo like Lu, flying feces is a real threat.
“Hippopotamuses are very territorial animals,” Curry said. “One of the ways they claim their territory is by urinating and defecating on objects. So what they will do is begin to defecate and twirl their tale around real fast and then they will fling dung all over something.”
Luckily, Lu’s exhibit has a big yellow sign labeled “Splatter Zone” that warns any unsuspecting bystanders.
Of course, visitors don’t flock to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park just to get covered in hippo feces. They come to see the oldest hippo in the Americas: Lu, which is short for Lucifer. The 60-year-old bull hippopotamus has lived at the park for almost his entire life.
Born in San Diego in 1960, Lu was relocated to Homosassa Springs to join the Ivan Tors Animal Actors. After nearly two decades of starring in movies and television specials, Lu suddenly faced eviction from his beloved home.
In 1989, the Florida Park Service took over the park and planned to move non-native species out of the state, which included Lu the Hippo. But Lu had become such a beloved member of the Homosassa community. So to keep Lu in the park, a petition was created and sent to Lawton Chiles, Florida’s Governor at the time.
“Governor Chiles agreed and actually made Lu an honorary Florida citizen,” Spratt said, “and that makes him the one and only Florida hippopotamus, and because he’s a citizen that’s how he’s allowed to stay in a Florida State Park as a non-native animal.”
Nearly three decades after becoming the only animal citizen in the state, Lu enjoys most of his days swimming in his enclosure, playing with his toys or entertaining visitors, though visitation is limited due to the pandemic.
Andrea Junkunc, who — like Curry and Spratt — is a Park Services Specialist, says the lack of a big audience doesn’t bother Lu too much.
“He has been in captivity his entire life,” Junkunc said. “He really does seem to like to interact with the visitors and he’s a big star here so everyone else’s name, they call out to him, sometimes he calls back. When he’s feeling really good he’ll kind of do like this weird somersaults where we can see his feet come up in the air.”
Indeed, Lu is living his best life. And while plans are still being made for his 61st birthday in January, feel free to stop by the state park and say hi to one of America’s most treasured animals.
Just don’t get caught in the Splatter Zone.