Catch-up time, part 1: Adena Springs Ranch 4

Well, the Organic Adventurer picked a fine time to leave town! The end of June was an important time for several issues related to the conservation of our water resources, the safety of our food system and more. So we offer a few resources where people can get up to speed about these issues.

(P.S. We know this post lacks the visuals our readers have become accustomed to, but trust us, there are lots of pictures, videos and informative graphics at the websites listed. If you want to start with a video summary instead of a verbal summary, skip to the Girls Gone Green link at the end and watch their beautiful video.)

The issue: Florida‘s springs and rivers are in distress. The water flow has fallen sharply over the last 10 years. The debate is about how much is due to drought and how much is due to excessive extraction of water. Concern for Northeast Florida’s springs and rivers, in particular, has spiked due to a permit application filed with the St. Johns River Water Management District for extraction of 13 million gallons of water a day for a new cattle ranch, the Adena Springs Ranch. The links below provide more details and avenues for taking action.

This link is for a June 22 New York Times article about the threat to Florida’s springs. It’s a decent general overview of the issue to get you started.

Straight from the source, this is the St. Johns River Water Management District page for the Adena Springs Ranch permit. Use it to get updated on the permit’s progress and to leave a comment. Where things stand now: The permit applicant has until August 26 to provide additional information the SJRWMD has requested. After that, the district’s Governing Board will consider the application in a meeting during which the public will have an opportunity to comment, at the district’s headquarters in Palatka.

This is the Silver Springs Alliance page. Their library of articles about the Silver River conservation effort is extensive.

On June 23, there was a rally for protection of the springs and rivers, Speak Up for Silver Springs and Florida’s Water. This is a rally follow-up piece that includes a link for a petition aimed at encouraging Governor Rick Scott to act. The coalition’s News and Announcements page also has an extensive list of other press coverage and items related to this issue.

This is a July 5 article on, pointing out that the use permit is for an average of 13 million gallons of water per day, meaning that the applicant could use nearly 27 million gallons per day if granted the permit.

This link is for an editorial published on It gives a bit more a personal look at what savings the region’s springs and rivers means. What I found especially interesting, though, was the list of books, which bears repeating and takes the issue to beyond the local, recommended by a commenter: When the Rivers Run Dry: Water – The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century by Fred Pearce; Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis by Cynthia Barnett; and Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization by Steven Solomon.

The Girls Gone Green ( is an organization dedicated to exploring environmental, animal and health issues. Their page on this issue includes a video that presents some of the concerns involved and additional information on the impact of waste from animal feeding operations. It also offers a helpful list of contact information for expressing your opinion to Governor Scott and others involved in the process.

We hope these resources will be a helpful place to start getting informed about an issue that developed very fast up until the end of June. Stay tuned for a similar digest about an issue related to the safety of our nation’s food supply.

Update 7/9/12: The St. Johns Riverkeeper ( just posted a video interview on their Facebook page of former governor Bob Graham regarding Florida’s water issues: Don’t know how we overlooked the Riverkeeper; they’re an excellent resource, of course, for information about Florida’s water resources!

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4 thoughts on “Catch-up time, part 1: Adena Springs Ranch

  • E.D.A.

    Isn’t part of “green living” eating locally raised and organic food? It seems like that is what Adena is going to provide – not an animal feeding operation. I have done a lot of research on animal feeding operations and looking at Adena’s website, that is not what they are doing at all. I understand the balance that needs to occur between protecting water resources and eating locally, but again, after doing some additional research on Adena, I see a lot of effort on their part to reduce their impact on water resources as much as possible.

    • The Organic Adventurer

      Thanks for reading and contributing to the conversation, E.D.A.

      Yes, eating locally raised and organic food is “part of ‘green living.’” However, there are several things to keep in mind: 1) With 15,000 head of cattle in the long-term plan, Adena clearly isn’t raising beef only for local consumption. To put that number in perspective, the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection considers more than 1,000 slaughter (beef) cattle to be “large-scale” in the context of a CAFO (which, from the Ranch’s website, they don’t propose to be, though neither to they detail, with a number, how many days out of the year the cattle might be confined); 2) Adena Springs Ranch plans to engage in some practices that are considered somewhat “sustainable,” such as herd rotation through pasture and using manure to at least partially fertilize. Sustainable, however, is not the same thing as organic. On the ASR website, the use of supplemental fertilization, if and when needed, is indicated. Also, on the permit application itself, pesticide use is indicated. While they are taking some measures toward having a sustainable operation, a truly sustainable cattle operation (the operation being sustainable, not necessarily its ultimate environmental impact), wouldn’t require supplemental fertilization and wouldn’t require pesticides at all. Further, the use of fertilizers and pesticides (though these could conceivably be non-synthetic, it’s unlikely due to the cost, nor does the ranch claim anywhere on its website that these substances will be anything other than synthetic) precludes application of the “organic” label. Neither does ASR say anywhere on their website or in any other source that we’ve found that they intend to run an “organic” operation. Interpretation: Local, unlikely. Organic, no.

      To your point about ASR not being an animal feeding operation: agreed, to a certain extent. The phrase was used to generally (perhaps too generally) apply to any operation engaged in the feeding of a large number of animals meant for human consumption, which ASR does propose to be. However, when most people hear the phrase “animal feeding operation,” they think of the horrible images of thousands of cows packed together in concrete-floored sheds and wallowing in their own waste. From the information on the ASR website, this is, again, not what they propose to be. However, the water and fertilizer it will take to grow sufficient forage for such a large number of animals should be considered.

      We have read through every page on the ASR website as well as the “backgrounders” (studies they had prepared to submit with the CUP application) and encourage those concerned about this issue to do the same. To that end, we thank you, E.D.A., for the second look at the post your comment made us take, during which we realized that we had not included the ASR website address! It is Again, it does seem as though they plan to take some action to “reduce their impact on water resources,” but it seems that the argument from the opposition is, partly, that their efforts don’t amount to “as much as possible” and that the project is so big that the area for which it’s proposed will not be able to support it ecologically.

      If your “additional research on Adena” involves information other than what is available on their website, please post that information, along with the source links or citations. I’m sure our readers would value the perspective.

      Additionally, we’d love to hear from other readers. If you oppose the project, would you say our description (albeit brief and simplistic) of your concerns is accurate? If you support the project, we’d love to know the facts behind your decision.

      Again, thanks for reading and commenting, E.D.A. This is how conversations get started!