By Doug Alderson, Outreach & Advocacy Director

The clear Merritt’s Mill Pond in Jackson County is a fabulous place to explore. The water body has several large springs, including the first magnitude Jackson Blue. Just below a dam at US 90, Spring Creek emerges from the pond and this feeds into the Chipola River. The Chipola, in turn, supplies about 11 percent of the Apalachicola River’s fresh water.

On a recent Apalachicola Riverkeeper kayak trip on Merritt’s Mill Pond, we paddled, swam and peered into a couple of shallow caves, enjoying as perfect a morning as August in Florida can provide. With regards to planning the outing, it was good to collaborate with Angie Riviere Outdoor Afro Tallahassee leader. Originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Angie attributes outdoor pursuits with enabling her to pursue a more healthy lifestyle and she is an excellent organizer and role model for the group.

“I was battling depression and it was suggested that I tried getting some sunlight,” she said. “The more I took to exploring, the more I looked at what Outdoor Afro was doing for ideas on what to do. I have been able to manage my depression and have since became a volunteer leader for the Tallahassee Network.”

Outdoor Afro was founded in 2009 by Rue Mapp “to address the ongoing need for greater diversity in the outdoors.” Today, the not-for-profit organization has 100 leaders in 56 cities. We look forward to working with Outdoor Afro on many more outings in the future!

Here are two short WFSU blogs with videos by Rob Diaz de Villegas about Merritt’s Mill Pond that you might enjoy. Besides beautiful water and springs, the pond is noted for a unique species of cave crustacean and for its trophy redear (shellcracker) fishing.

https://blog.wfsu.org/blog-coastal-health/tag/merritts-mill-pond/

Learn about the history of Jackson Blue Spring on Merritt’s Mill Pond by watching this video by Two Egg TV.

TJ, Angie and Georgia at Shang-gri-la Spring, by Doug Alderson
TJ reacts to a skunk ape lurking behind a tree
Emily explores Shang-gri-la Spring
Karen poking into “Gator Hole” along the pond, by Doug Alderson
Angie and Doug
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