WEEKI WACHEE, Fla. — The state is taking a big step forward to reduce the amount of kayak traffic on the overcrowded Weeki Wachee River.
Tracy Dust has lived on the Weeki Wachee River for 30 years but says he stopped taking his boat out on weekends a while ago.
"I know a lot of people who don’t even try anymore. It's just a mess," said Dust.
Locals say too many people are causing a mess of the traffic and trash. Citizens even started a volunteer group to pick up the thousands of pounds of trash left behind by all of the kayakers.
Hernando County leaders have done what they can to reduce the traffic by creating kayak launches on other rivers, investing in a carrying capacity study, and putting more law enforcement on the river.
But the state is in control because they own most of the land on the river including Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where nearly 400 kayaks are launched each day.
"The numbers were based on the number of kayaks, not necessarily the number of people, so if you have 400 tandem kayaks, you had 800 people on the river," said Dan Gill, who lives on the river.
After constant pressure from citizens and a push from state senator Wilton Simpson, Florida's Department of Environmental Protection announced last week that effective immediately, they are lowering the number of users launching from the state park to 280 people a day, as it says in their original 2011 plan.
"I think it’s a major breakthrough for all the members of this community that have been working so hard in regard to this issue," said Dust.