Manatees-in-the-Oklawaha
Newsletter - November 2021

SJRWMD Survey Results Show Strong Support for Ocklawaha River Restoration

The recent month-long, online public survey launched by St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) regarding the future of the Kirkpatrick Dam and Rodman Reservoir resulted in 10,482 responses. Initial analysis of the results indicated overwhelming support for restoration. Of 9,793 submittals answering the question “What would you like to see happen with the Rodman Reservoir and Kirkpatrick Dam moving forward?” over 86.5% of the respondents expressed a desire to restore a free-flowing Ocklawaha River, and 5.9% were in favor of retaining the dam and reservoir. The remaining responses did not reflect a clear pro-restoration or pro-dam and reservoir position. The data has been sent to Florida Department of Environmental Protection for their use.

Putnam and Marion counties, bordering the Rodman Reservoir and Ocklawaha River, were heavily pro restoration of the Ocklawaha River, too. Putnam County responses ran three to one in favor of restoration with Marion County topping that with pro restoration responses coming in five to one.

Demonstrating that restoration of the Ocklawaha is of state interest and significance, survey completers came from 66 of the 67 counties in Florida.

SJRWMD Governing Board Presentation

Nov. 9, 2021
SJRWMD-Meeting
”Of 9,793 SJRWMD survey respondents answering the question “What would you like to see happen with the Rodman Reservoir and Kirkpatrick Dam?” over 86.5% were for Ocklawaha River restoration and 5.9% favored retaining the dam and reservoir.”

Margaret Spontak, Chair
Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition for Everyone

Invasive Aquatic Weeds Temporarily Shut Down Cross Florida Barge Canal and Clog Portions of the Rodman Reservoir

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A sign just east of the Buckman Lock on the Cross Florida Barge Canal between the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers says, “Temporarily Closed.” An estimated 120 acres of browning out invasive aquatic weeds on the east and west sides of the canal have been sprayed with herbicide and have started the cycle of turning from green to brown before sinking to the bottom adding to the herbicide-laden muck. Some will float out into the St. Johns River, if the locks open again soon.

“This cycle repeats itself multiple times throughout the year,” explains Karen Chadwick, owner and operator of Northstar Charters. “The herbicides include tens of thousands of dollars of diquat and other chemicals.” It has created an unreliable recreation resource for guides such as Chadwick, fishing tournament organizers and individual anglers driving sometimes for miles to find the boat ramps blocked.

Casey Fitzgerald, retired Assistant Water Resource Director from St. Johns River Water Management District says, “A free-flowing Ocklawaha River, reconnecting Silver Springs with the St. Johns and Ocklawaha rivers would provide cooler, clearer natural flow free of algal blooms and massive takeovers by invasive aquatic weeds.”

FDE Lawsuit Has No Impact on Ocklawaha River Coalition Progress

What does the recent court opinion on the Florida Defenders of the Environment lawsuit mean for Ocklawaha River restoration efforts?

The simple answer is: The court’s ruling has no direct impact on the strategy that Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition for Everyone (FORCE) is executing. The coalition’s focus has been to advocate for legislative and/or governor action for the funding and execution of partial restoration of the Ocklawaha River. The strategy includes aggressive communication, solid science, and strategic advocacy work with key leaders throughout Florida and beyond.

However, it is important to understand though that the court’s decision was made based on a procedural matter and not the environmental or economic merits of partial restoration of the Ocklawaha River. The court did give Florida Defenders of the Environment the ability to amend or add to its complaint and further pursue their claims. FDE is considering further action.
For the Great Florida Riverway,

Margaret Hankinson Spontak, Chair
Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition for Everyone
mspontak@FreetheOcklawaha.com

Free The Ocklawaha Coalition. For a list of our members click here .
Free the Ocklawaha
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