The head of the Crystal River State Buffer Preserve is leaving to become manager of the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Seth Blitch's responsibilities will include overseeing sea turtle and bird species protection and water quality and meteorological monitoring as well as developing environmental education programs.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to live and work in an area that is so richly endowed with natural resources," Blitch said.
Apalachicola, southwest of Tallahassee, is one of only four designated research reserves in Florida and one of 25 in the nation.
Blitch is replacing Woody Miley, who is retiring after 22 years with the state Department of Environmental Protection.
While he looks forward to the new responsibility, Blitch said he is sad to leave Crystal River, where he has worked for eight years, the last year as manager of the buffer preserve.
Blitch, 36, said he is proud of the projects completed during his tenure, including the establishment of nature trails, sea grass and water quality studies and restoration of pine habitats.
Later this month, the newest nature trail will open across from the Crystal River Mall. The uniquely located boardwalk winds through pine and oak trees and provides a look at what Florida was like before development.
"None of these things I can take credit for myself," Blitch said. "They were all a team effort."
His new job will still allow him to return to Crystal River on occasion as the preserve falls under his purview.