The following facts about restoration of the Ocklawaha is from a brochure received from Florida Defenders of the Environment

Throughout Florida's history, the Ocklawaha River has been regarded as one of the state's most beautiful waterways - providing scenic beauty, valuable wildlife habitat, excellent fishing and abundant recreation opportunities.

When the Army Corps of Engineers began work on the Cross Florida Barge Canal in 1968, a 16-mile section of the river was dammed and 9,000 acres of its floodplain forest were destroyed. Successful citizen efforts to stop the barge canal project prevented destruction of another 20 miles of the Ocklawaha. What remains is a shallow, wood-choked impoundment - Rodman Reservoir.

Fortunately, the Ocklawaha River can be restored - and at a savings to taxpayers.

Restoring the Ocklawaha can be relatively quick and straightforward. Beneath Rodman Reservoir, the original river channel still exists and will quickly adjust when the reservoir is drained. The area will rapidly revegetate as a result of ample, viable seed sources that still exists on the floodplain. In fact, it would take a Herculean effort to keep the forest from regenerating.

Numerous studies have evaluated Rodman Reservoir and the Ocklawaha River - studies regarding the ecology, economics, hydrology, geology, recreational use, environmental quality, and impacts on wildlife. The merits of restoring the Ocklawaha are well documented.

Florida has much to gain by freeing the Ocklawaha River ..

Taxpayer Savings:

..The best available cost estimate to keep and maintain Rodman Reservoir and Buckman Lock is about $700,000 per year - indefinitely.

..Once restored, the Ocklawaha River would maintain itself at virtually no cost, resulting in a savings to taxpayers.

..Controlling aquatic weeds will not be a problem in the restored, swift-moving Oklawaha. Weeds will forever be a problem in Rodman and, unless controlled by expensive herbicide treatments and manipulation of water levels, will result in low oxygen levels and fish kills.

..The most recent and extensive economic studies conclude Rodman Reservoir has a negligible effect on the local economy.

Fishing and Wildlife Habitat:

..Restoring the river will allow species such as striped bass, channel catfish, shad, mullet and American eels to return and breed in the numerous springs and tributaries of the upper Ocklawaha. At least two major fish kills occurred in Rodman Reservoir (8.5 million in 1985 and 2.5 million in 1988). Low dissolve oxygen levels caused by decaying vegetation literally suffocated the fish.

Refuge for Manatees:

..At a time when habitat in Florida for manatee is diminishing, removing Rodman Dam will reopen river pathways to warm water refuge sites, such a Silver Springs. Access to the upper Ocklawaha will be granted to manatees only if the river is restored.

Recovery of Floodplain Forest and Wildlife Habitat

..Restoring the Ocklawaha will recover 9,000 acres of floodplain forest habitat, one of the most biologically rich, but rapidly disappearing, ecosystems in North America. The river hardwoods above Rodman will be reconnected with those along the lower Ocklawaha and St. Johns Rivers.

Restoration will enhance a vital pathway for wildlife between Ocala National Forest and forest habitat to the north of the Ocklawaha that is currently interrupted by Rodman Reservoir.

The restored Ocklawaha will have more miles of forested shoreline than does Rodman Reservoir. This will improve habitat for wildlife that live in swamp forests, such as river otters, black bears, bobcats, grey fox, wild turkey, wood ducks, swallow-tailed kites, hairy woodpeckers, prothonotary warblers and Cooper's hawks, species which are uncommon and whose habitats are diminishing statewide.

Downstream Productivity:

..The Ocklawaha is the largest tributary of the St. Johns River. Nutrients that once washed out into the St. Johns, contributed to the productivity of juvenile fish, blue crab and shrimp. These nutrients are now impounded behind the Rodman Dam

..Restoring the Ocklawaha will reestablish this vital link between the particulate nutrients that flow into the Ocklawaha River and productivity in the St. Johns River.


..The restored Ocklawaha will provide high- quality river-based recreation of a kind that is fast-disappearing nationwide - providing a boost to state and local economies.

..Once restored, 20 natural artesian springs will reestablish themselves, providing a well-known source of enjoyment in Florida.

..State plans include additional access points which will increase fishing opportunities for those without the power boats necessary to fish in the Rodman Reservoir.

..planned recreation and camping facilities will provide new opportunities for nature- based-based tourism.

YOU CAN HELP .. we rarely have a chance to right an environmental wrong. We have such a chance now! Citizens have fought for over 30 years to protect and restore the Ocklawaha River. After all this effort, special interestsnow want to keep Rodman for fishing at the expense of manatees, fish and wildlife habitat, springs, and numerous other natural resources - not to mention the enormous and never-ending cost to taxpayer for maintaining Rodman Reservoir.

In a very real sense, the fate of the Ocklawaha River is in your hands. Please take a few minutes to:

..Write or call your State Representative and Senator (call Florida Defenders of the Environment if you need their names)

..Tell them that you are a constituent and support restoring the Ocklawaha River.

..Ask them where they stand on the issue. Let us know their response by calling or writing Florida Defenders of the Environment.

..Call Governor Chiles (850) 488-4441 and thank him for his leadership on Ocklawaha Restoration.

..Help us restore one of Florida's great river systems!

Please act now .. every letter and phone call counts!

If you would like more information, contact

Florida Defenders of the Environment,

4424 NW 13th Street, Suite C-8,

Gainesville, FL 32609

(352) 378-8465


Learn more about Audubon and the Environment:

Check our Meetings and Events Calendar
Learn about Our Chapter, and how to join
Read/post messages on our Ridge Audubon Message Board
Checkout the latest issue of The Flying Eagle Newsletter
Check out Steve Morrison's Kestrel Project Update
Read about Removing the Oklawaha's Rodman Dam Visit our favorite Environmental Web Sites
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LAST UPDATED: Wednesday, 14-Sep-2005 13:24:48 EDT