What Partners are Saying
Free the Ocklawaha Coalition: “Thirty-three organizations representing millions of supporters have pulled together to make restoration a reality as we move towards the 50th anniversary of the halting of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. The Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam, never used for its intended purpose, is past its life expectancy. It is time to come together for the benefit of the economy and the environment.” -Margaret Hankinson Spontak, Chair, Free the Ocklawaha Coalition.
Dam History: “It was my grandmother who rallied 162 scientists in 1970 to convince President Nixon to stop the canal that was one third completed. As founding President of Florida Defenders of the Environment (FDE), she worked for 30 years to reconnect three rivers that were severed by the Rodman Dam. As current President of FDE my goal is to restore the Ocklawaha River with aligned stakeholders to protect wildlife and the environment through building an understanding of the interconnectedness of rivers, forests, animals, people and wellbeing.” - Jennifer Carr, FDE President and Biosecurity Research & Extension lab manager at UF Entomology & Nematology Dept.
Economic and Environmental Impact: “The recent Ocklawaha River drawdown gave us a glimpse of what the river once was and could be again. At a time when Florida’s water issues are at the forefront, restoring this special part of wild Florida makes ecological and economic sense.” - Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director, Audubon Florida
Fish: “Silver Springs will never be fully restored without the removal of the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam on the Ocklawaha River. Migratory fish from the Atlantic Ocean and St. Johns River, including striped bass, channel catfish, striped mullet, American shad, American eels, and Atlantic sturgeon, are critical to a productive Silver Springs ecosystem. Large schools of catfish and mullet, swimming over algae-free grasses, will provide a visible confirmation of restoration for the public riding the iconic Glass Bottom Boats at Silver Springs.”- Dr. Robert Knight, Executive Director, Florida Springs Institute.
Manatees: “We can address the greatest long-term threat to Florida’s manatees — loss of warm water habitat to survive during cold weather – by restoring natural flow of the Ocklawaha River and its 20 freshwater springs. Restoration would provide vital winter refuge to an estimated 1,000 manatees that shelter at impermanent power plants.” - Elizabeth Fleming, Senior Florida Representative, Defenders of Wildlife.
Recreation Use: “A University of Florida study on the Ocklawaha River, not including Silver Springs State Park, confirmed that ‘the economic impact from eco-tourists who use the natural portions of the Ocklawaha River is twice that of the anglers and boaters at Rodman Reservoir.’ Use of the reservoir sites has been declining since records began in 2004. Returning the historic fish and attracting hundreds of manatees to Silver Springs will boost visitor counts and revitalize the Silver Springs community.” - Chris Spontak, President, Silver Springs Alliance.
Tourism: “The Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam eliminated 16 miles of the natural Ocklawaha River. My boat passengers want to see a healthy, natural waterway and the creatures that inhabit them. The dam has created an unreliable recreational resource that is often impassable by boat due to invasive aquatic plants.”- Karen Chadwick, River Guide, NorthStar Charters
Water: “Ocklawaha River restoration would increase freshwater flows in the Lower Ocklawaha and St. John Rivers by millions of gallons a day due to less evaporation off the artificial pool and uncovering of more than 20 springs flooded by the Rodman Dam.” - James Gross, geologist and Executive Director of Florida Defenders of the Environment.
Wildlife: “On behalf of hikers, paddlers and conservationists, the Sierra Club is committed to restoration of the natural flow of the Ocklawaha. In the words of Whitey Markle “the poor old Ocklawaha’ is due the attention it has deserved and has been left without for far too long.” - Cris Costello, Organizing Manager, Sierra Club