Will Wakulla County Commission save north Florida from a ‘Black Lagoon’?

creature from the black lagoon
Commissioners to consider ‘mega-gas station’ close to legendary Wakulla Springs.

Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” portions of which were filmed in Wakulla Springs.

Metaphors never looked so scary.

In case you have missed the news, a Georgia gas station company is intent on building a new mega-station on top of an underwater cave that feeds the Springs. Wakulla County Commissioners will consider the matter at a Monday afternoon meeting.

Environmentalists — and anyone with common sense — fear this could lead to a disaster that turns Wakulla Springs into a literal black lagoon.

Southwest Georgia Oil is the company, and it manages gas stations like Inland and Sunstop. Unfortunately, its track record reads like a horror movie script. As of April 2022, the company is responsible for 44 historically contaminated gas station facilities. In Quincy, a SW Georgia Oil gas station was found in 2019 to be the source of a petroleum spill that spread a quarter mile. 

Look, except maybe for SW Georgia Oil, nobody thinks building a gas station over the amazing and precious caves that feed Wakulla Springs is a good idea. And it’s not just the radical environmentalists, who tend to oppose just about everything.

No, it’s mainstream groups like The Sierra Club, which weighed in with a statement opposing the gas station.

“Who in their right mind would jeopardize Wakulla County’s claim to fame for the sake of a gas station complex? ‘No one’ is the unimpeachable answer,” said Cris Costello, of Sierra Club Florida.

Heck, even Jeb Bush-appointed former DEP secretary Colleen Castille has come out against the project. 

The question is: how can it be stopped?

Ultimately, it’s up to the local and state government to find a solution. It will require creativity and determination, which brings me to this question:

Why does there always seem to be local governmental creativity when a workaround is needed for developers? Where is that spirit of “finding a way” when protecting the Springs is the issue?

Instead of seeing lawsuit boogeymen lurking everywhere, why can’t the county administrator and county attorney give Commissioners feasible options? And if they don’t have one yet, why not do the thing the local government is best at — slow the process down?

Apparently, one point being made by the county is that the survey of the underwater caves isn’t reliable.

Uh, has it occurred to those folks that this actually bolsters the need to slow all of this down? What if the caves are actually closer than we think, either in terms of depth or width? If we aren’t sure, shouldn’t we be sure before building anything new over them?

Look, nobody is saying these commissioners don’t care about the Springs, but when they started tossing out terms like “private property rights,” their position is undercut. Government — even local government — is a powerful entity when protecting natural resources is at stake. Find a way!

And the state has a role here, too. Another red herring state folks like to toss out: “This is a local problem and there is nothing we can do.” It’s funny how the pre-emption bug is suddenly cured when it’s the environment that needs help. 

DEP could simply say it wants to study this issue further and that would probably be enough to tap the brakes on this process.

And if Gov. DeSantis even glanced toward Wakulla County it would be enough to slow it down (hey, here’s an idea … why doesn’t the state step in and just buy the property to protect it?).

Somebody at the local or state level needs to show some creativity and courage to find a solution to this problem. 

It’s a great chance for someone to be a hero.

And time is running out. 

If Wakulla County doesn’t want a sequel to “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” folks better show up at the Wakulla Commission chambers at 5 p.m. Monday. 

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Ocean Joe

    August 5, 2023 at 11:23 am

    Good luck.

    Our current governor and legislature and their attacks on home rule will make this difficult. Desantis is only moved by what will help him run for president, not his legacy as governor. The poorly regulated sale of spring water, the abolition of the DCA, the refusal to allow environmental concerns to triumph over a quick buck has been the case since Jeb! showed up. People cheer statistics on new residents but never acknowledge the pressure on our housing supply, our roadways, utilities and water. Bigger is always better.
    That spring is not an island. It is connected to the aquifer. Its’ ruination will not be isolated.

  • My Take

    August 5, 2023 at 7:28 pm

    Beyond the high risk from gasoline and diesel fuel, is this place to be on a septic tank?

  • SaveFloridaSprings

    August 5, 2023 at 9:43 pm

    I don’t understand why anyone would want to risk this precious natural resource!

    • dahlia_piros

      August 6, 2023 at 6:23 pm


  • Short answer

    August 6, 2023 at 12:56 pm


  • Short answer

    August 6, 2023 at 12:56 pm


  • My Take

    August 6, 2023 at 2:24 pm

    That guy in the lagoon?
    GOP VP nominee?
    FAU’s next presidènt?

  • tom palmer

    August 6, 2023 at 5:34 pm

    This is such a no- brainer, I don’t understand the commission’s position. I was also upset that the glass-bottom boat rides that my wife and I have enjoyed have ended because of pollution.

  • Westi Jo DeHaven-Smith

    August 7, 2023 at 10:16 am

    I guess, four of the five County Commissioners have never read or heard a out “The goose who laid a golden egg” story!!! Commissioner Chuck Hess has supported citizens efforts to protect the springs. SOS, Save Our Springs!

Comments are closed.


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