Photo of motorcycles on street in High Springs.
Photo of Ichetucknee spring.
Photo of Wendy Wilbur
Photo of Wendy Wilbur
Photo of Wendy Wilbur
Photo of Ginnie Spring
Photo of Wendy Wilbur
Photo of Kirk Eppenstein.
Photo of Kirk Eppenstein and child planting a garden.
Photo of Kirk Eppenstein.
Photo of butterfly on flower.
Photo of yards with swales.
Photo of High Springs sign
Photo of Kirk Eppenstein.
High Springs Embraces Low-impact Development to Protect Springs

Narrator
High Springs is the picture of small town America. Located about 25 miles northwest of Gainesville, its quaint downtown is a destination for antique hunters. It's also a town where local residents can get a hair cut or a meal in a place that doesn't appear to have changed much in the past couple of decades. But High Springs is changing. As the gateway to some of Florida\'s most popular natural springs, more and more people are drawn here who wish to live near its unspoiled natural resources. Because the town is close to springs and the Santa Fe river people like horticulture expert Wendy Wilber want to see the town become a model for environmentally-friendly landscaping and yards.
Wendy Wilbur, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program representative
This restoration site here at Poe Springs Park in Alachua County is a project that was done to recreate a waterfront, a natural waterfront so you can begin to see what a buffer strip looks like when we are restoring a waterfront, restoring a riverfront, lakefront or creekfront.
Narrator
Wilber is the University of Florida Extension's Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program representative. She has been working with community leaders in High Springs to promote Florida-friendly landscaping principles.
Wendy Wilbur, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods
If people understood that the fertilizers that they are putting onto their landscapes are going to find their way into the springs and basically destroy the beauty that they came here for, I think they would take a more conservative approach to their fertilizer use.
Narrator
Fertilizers and other pollutants can easily find their way into the shallow aquifer via numerous sinkholes in and around High Springs.
Wendy Wilbur, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods
Luckily there are some forward thinking leaders in our community that have embraced this project, that realize the importance of looking at development and having smart growth and smart development and they know that the landscaping has a big impact on that development and the community as a whole.
Narrator
One of those "forward thinking leaders" is . He owns The Grady House, a historic High Springs bed and breakfast. He's also a High Springs City Commissioner and former mayor. Whether supporting community efforts to replant the local firehouse with Florida-friendly plants or requiring builders to minimize stormwater runoff, Eppenstein is passionate about protecting the environment.
Kirk Eppenstein, High Springs City Commissioner
We have become and we hope to continue to be a model of how a community can grow and not destroy the environment.
Narrator
As High Springs' popularity grows, so does Eppenstein's sense of urgency to establish sustainable development practices and protect natural resources.
Kirk Eppenstein, High Springs City Commissioner
High Springs represents the opportunity to do it right the first time rather than going back and mitigate things that we did wrong.
Narrator
Doing it right means creating and adopting local ordinances to permit development that has minimal impact on the environment.
Kirk Eppenstein, High Springs City Commissioner
The same old, same old is not good enough for us. It's not ok when you develop a piece of property to go in and scrape it clean, build a whole bunch of houses and put up scraggly little trees that are held up by guidewires. You need to leave some of the natural vegetation that's been there for hundreds of years. It's doing its job.
Narrator:
Eppenstein says that the land planning code places emphasis on protection of sinkholes from stormwater runoff. This requires developers to, in some cases, move away from the use of traditional stormwater retention ponds, and look toward dispersing stormwater over larger more natural areas.
Kirk Eppenstein, High Springs City Commissioner
Most of the developers realize there's some financial gain to doing it right the first time. Those who don't probably are not the type of developer that we want here in High Springs.
Narrator:
Eppenstein says High Springs' residents support concepts like Florida-friendly landscaping and development programs that protect their natural resources and quality of life.
Kirk Eppenstein, High Springs City Commissioner
We need to embrace the people who want to live here, but we also need to work very hard not to lose the things that make this attractive.