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Three Sisters Springs Manatee Information

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Three Sisters Springs documents and important information.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Offers Refined Alternative for Access to Three Sisters Springss

Seeks 14-day Public Review as 2015-16 Manatee Season Nears

November 10, 2015

A refined proposal to provide access to Three Sisters Springs at Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is being released today and it includes three noteworthy changes from an August draft proposal released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

After reviewing more than 2,600 comments from citizens, local leaders and the business community, the Service released a revised draft Environmental Assessment for public comment that it believes better matches up its need to protect manatees with local tourism and business interests and its partnership with the City of Crystal River.

The refined alternative, referred to as Modified Guided In-Water Manatee Viewing or Alternative D, would reduce the maximum number of visitors allowed in the water at any one time from 29 to 13, including required guides. It proposes changes to how people will access the water and limits access points. And finally, it proposes to shift responsibility for issuing permits to tour operators and dive shops from the Service to the City of Crystal River. This is possible since the City is a co-owner/manager of the property. A Memorandum of Understanding would be put in place that would clearly outline the process and how access would be managed. The Service will continue to provide training to permit holders and manage permitted access for commercial film and photography professionals.

If Alternative D is selected, the Refuge would immediately implement all components except for the lottery selection processes for both snorkeling, and photography and commercial filming in the Springs. Those processes will be utilized for the season beginning November 2016. If this alternative is implemented during the current manatee season (November 2015 – April 2016), snorkelers and photographers will be provided access on a first-come, first-served basis. When the lottery selection processes are in place, the Refuge and the City of Crystal River will widely announce the availability.

The Service seeks public review of this draft Environmental Assessment, which can be found at, and at Comments must be submitted by November 23, 2015. The Service anticipates making a final decision in December, 2015.
Comments may be e-mailed to


Please note that comments, including personal information, will become available to the public. You may request at the top of your comments that we withhold this information from public review; however, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

Click Here for the Full Press Release

 Draft Environmental Assessment, Manatee Wildlife Viewing on Crystal River NWR Three Sisters Springs, Citrus County, Florida 



•  Three Sisters Springs second Environmental Assessment News Conference audio file. 



Learn more about Human/Manatee interactions in these two monitoring studies conducted at Three Sisters Springs between December 2014 and April 2015.

The first study was conducted in December 2014 to January 2015
Manatees, People, and Three Sisters Springs, final 28 page report.
Appendices I and II and III.
Appendix IV Charts.
Appendix V Low tide.
Appendices VI and VII and VIII.

View the three-part second study through this slide presentation.
Results of the 2015 Manatee and Human Interactions Observational Studies, Three Sisters Springs, Conducted by USFWS Biology Interns and Volunteers.


Last Updated: Nov 10, 2015
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