The word natural. So shameful! Guest column: Breaching Rodman dam will reveal 20 lost springs of the Ocklawaha River Springs vent water from aquifers underground, but the video … The Rodman Reservoir or Lake Ocklawaha is an artificial reservoir located on the Ocklawaha River in Putnam and Marion County. From the ruins, we took a short hike over an adjacent hill and down to Tobacco Patch Landing Spring. Fifty-two years after the Ocklawaha was dammed to construct the later-canceled Cross-Florida Barge Canal, they’re circulating a video that argues it’s smarter to remove much of the aging dam than pay for needed maintenance and upkeep. The outreach this month by the Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition aims to raise new followers by rebranding the Ocklawaha as “the heart of the Great Florida Riverway,” a marketer's name for a 217-mile system of waterways — including the St. Johns River’s lower basin — that shape North Florida the way the Everglades define South Florida. Entering the spring run, the water became increasingly clear. Cypress trees bordered the river on both sides, trunks stained for the first few feet from the typically higher waterline. What a great write-up, y’all! A trip can be arranged using Eureka West as a launch point. The idea of a canal to connect the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean across Florida had been around for centuries. There are plenty of other resources online as well and I encourage you to seek as many out as possible. Historically, Blue Spring emptied to the Ocklawaha River via Indian Creek, a five-mile clear spring run, just upstream of the current location of the Rodman Dam. While waiting for the rest of the group, we chatted with other like-minded folks in the parking lot. Required fields are marked *. Guest column: Breaching Rodman dam will reveal 20 lost springs of the Ocklawaha River. During the most recent draw-down starting in late 2019, we received a special invite. After a short safety briefing, we loaded onto a couple of pontoon boats, and cruised downstream. A four-gate spillway (Kirkpatrick Dam) controls the water levels of the reservoir. We were asked to join a boat tour of the river by the Florida Springs Council. The project ceased on January 19, 1971 when President Richard Nixon signed an executive order. Are you or anyone you know is in a civic or environmental group? They also state that draining the Rodman Reservoir would (sic)“displace many endangered or threatened species of wildlife in Florida. 3. We sure miss the way the Ocklawaha River looked when we were growing up in the Ocala National Forest. This is where we unloaded and headed up a hill. The largest of several large lakes in the Ocklawaha's watershed is the badly polluted Lake Apopka near Orlando. The Florida Trail Association hiking trail and an atv trail is located one mile west of the campground. Traveling north towards the next spring, we took note of the cypress lining the main river. If the water levels returned to normal, the river would likely expose many more springs. Seen here is Rodman Dam along the Ocklawaha River. Spread the message about the need to finally bring down the dam. Coalition members have begun conversations with politicians and groups that feel a stake in the areas around the Ocklawaha, which in April was named one of America's most endangered rivers by the national American Rivers organization. Location: This section of the Ocklawaha River is located between the Rodman ( Kirkpatrick ) Dam, on Rodman Dam Road, Palatka, Fl and Hwy 19 in the Caravelle Ranch Wildlife Management Area. A very popular route for steamboats in the 1800’s; Many notable folks took the trip from Jacksonville to Silver Springs. Supporters tout removing the dam as a step that would help three waterways – the Silver River in Marion County, the Ocklawaha and the St. Johns – by reestablishing connections that marine life depended on before the dam was created in 1968. We set out to explore the lost springs of the Ocklawaha. The Rodman dam, built for a 50-year life, was finished 52 years ago. They include the St Johns Riverkeeper, Florida Springs Institue, and the Florida Springs Council. 4. Hopping out of the boat, we took a few minutes to check out the tree and take a few pictures. Historically, the Ocklawaha river flowed from Lake Griffin to its confluence with the Silver river; then around the eastern, northern borders of the Ocala National Forest and into the St. Johns River. Show Your Support! "Springs of the Ocklawaha River from Rodman Dam (River Mile 12) to Eureka Dam (River Mile 33): A Slide Show by Paul Nosca" 32 slide-show views that portray most of … Follow the Free the Ocklawaha coalition’s page https://www.facebook.com/freetheocklawaha/ and share it with others. On foot (Read about our hike here) or on the water. They describe the Rodman Reservoir as home to many species of wildlife. … This one was smaller but a bit deeper. According to our guide, Dr Strange was a friend of Marjorie Rawlings, the author of The Yearling and Cross Creek. They went as far to draft a map to show the recreational opportunities that would arise from such a restoration. We could see a slight blueness to the water and the shadow of an occasional fish passing over. These were originally intended to be part of the lock system on the canal. It would be devasting to the unique ecosystem and a trajedy to deny future generations a natural paradise such as Rodman.”. 2 From the main spring, we swam about a hundred feet north to another small spring. NOTE: Forecasts are not available for the Ocklawaha River at Rodman Dam. At one time the Ocklawaha was slated to be part of the Cross Florida Barge Canal and was channelized and developed, the dam was part of that project. You can arrange a speaker to come talk about restoring the Ocklawaha: https://www.freetheocklawaha.com/schedule-a-speaker/. That added flow of fresh water reaching the St. Johns is something Rinaman and other activists have argued would be critical in downstream areas like Jacksonville to offset rising salinity as higher sea levels push into river’s mouth at Mayport. For July 4th, 2016: Remember that the Ocklawaha River is also the northern and western boundary of the Ocala National Forest making it a USA and State of Florida river also. Our boats stopped at a shallow beach near ruins known as the Dr Strange house. “The restoration of the Ocklawaha is the most important step to restoring and making the St. Johns River resilient to sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion,” said St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman, whose organization is one of about 40 groups in the coalition. Tree trunks and branches continually pile against the dam's upstream side. The flooded reservoir drowned over 7,500 acres of floodplain forest and 20 freshwater springs. Florida River, Florida Springs, Florida Springs Council, Free The Ocklawaha, Kayak, Ocklawaha, river, Rodman Dam, Waterway. That's a legacy of … It is about 15 miles long almost 2 miles wide near the dam. 2. “I formerly supported retaining Rodman,” Bill Rossi, a bass tournament competitor, says in the hour-and-four-minute program. Within the campground, there is boat ramp access to Rodman Reservoir. We arrived early in the morning at the Eureka West Recreation Area; a section of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway. The video, posted at greatfloridariverway.com, includes state lawmakers – Sens. It is a sunken floodplain forest which was created and partially cleared to … Natural: existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind. The Ocklawaha River is the principal tributary of the St. Johns River. Waters close to Duval on ‘most endangered’ list for country, Breaching Rodman dam will reveal 20 lost springs of the Ocklawaha River, Your California Privacy Rights/Privacy Policy. These trees are clearly in poor condition, and many have died from the unnaturally high waters in the reservoir. About Rodman Reservoir. Rodman Reservoir, or Lake Ocklawaha, is an artificial reservoir located on the Ocklawaha River in Putnam County and Marion County in north central Florida. Along the river, Silver Springs is the closest town to the Ocklawaha River at the south end of the Ocala National Forest, and Eureka and Salt springs to the north. Before embarking on our voyage downstream, we went over the main issues, complete with a very informative map. But the video tries to undermine that resistance, arguing that Rodman’s importance as a fishery is declining and quoting an economist projecting better financial returns from restoring the river and promoting outdoor recreation like boating, birding and nature photography. “It is a slow process,” said Margaret Hankinson Spontak, a Marion County resident who chairs the Ocklawaha coalition. Alligators drift past wading birds and raptors, a variety of fish species, and the occasional manatee. admin Tree trunks and branches continually pile against the dam's upstream side. Only observed stages are available for this point. Extending over seventy miles, the Ocklawaha River and its dark waters are home to a multitude of wildlife. Currently, the only access manatees have to go upriver to Silver Springs is though the series of locks along the canal that connects to the St Johns River. It is located south of Palatka off of Hwy 19. It’s a shame that there are people in this world that can’t leave well enough alone! Florida State Parks, Hiking, Kayaking, National Forests, Ocala National Forest, Spring, Sunshine State, Waterways Notify me of follow-up comments by email. The Rodman Reservoir, also known as Lake Ocklawaha, is a fabricated lake located on the Ocklawaha River. We believe the citizens of our beautiful state can convince lawmakers. It was first proposed by Philip II of Spain in 1567. The house was really neat, especially the custom mosaic of tiles on the floor. ON BOTH SIDES OF THE DAM The Ocklawaha River was dammed in 1968. Dozens of organizations would like to Free the Ocklawaha, with the main goal of partial restoration. An all-around eco-mess. It is in fact home to eagles, black bears, turkeys, turtles, alligators, and a healthy, diverse fish population. Contact Governor DeSantis and urge him to follow through with the partial restoration. People also launch canoes and kayaks here or watch the numerous bird species that frequent the dam and spillway area. Manatees occasionally become stuck in these locks. This SIGN-FOR-FREE $$$ petition had 2,112 supporters and more than 550 favorable comments as of that date. And interesting history about the area. The reservoir was created in 1968 when an earthen dam was built across the Ocklawaha River. They wait for a boat to come, in hopes that humans will allow them passage through their manufactured gate. Springs vent water from aquifers underground, but the video quotes a geologist saying the flow would increase by up to 150 million gallons a day without the reservoir covering them. Based in north-central Florida, it was built along the Ocklawaha River to aid navigation along the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Experience the Great Florida Riverway! A year after she died in 1997, the right-of-way surrounding the canal was named in her honor. Strange had to abandon the property when it fell into the right-of-way of the Barge Canal project. A national river advocacy group on Tuesday named the Ocklawaha River as … That's a … They're also circulating requests for people to email DeSantis to show their support for restoration. Still, the bass like it just fine. This would also providing additional habitat. It seems to me that the cost of retaining Rodman is very much too high.”. Rodman Reservoir is legendary for the number of trophy Florida bass it has produced over the years ever since it was created. Having built the house alongside the river; Dr. Flooded waters behind the dam suffocate a forest of established cypress trees and cover azure-blue springs in silt and muck. Coalition members “want to get the governor’s attention,” Rinaman said. https://www.instagram.com/swampandspring/, https://www.flgov.com/email-the-governor/, https://www.facebook.com/freetheocklawaha/, https://www.freetheocklawaha.com/schedule-a-speaker/. In the heart of peninsular Florida, a slow-moving waterway meanders northward, enveloped by thick swamp of cypress trees. It's weedy, mucky and filled with submerged stumps. Water rushes from the downstream side of Rodman Dam along the Ocklawaha River. The Rodman Dam cuts off the free flow of the Ocklawaha about nine miles from the St. Johns River. Before construction on the dam began, groups were fighting against it. When the water is low, a handful of springs re-emerge from the dark waters. Show your Support for a Free-flowing Ocklawaha. The groups are trying to raise their cause’s profile before the Florida Legislature meets in March, although they're not pushing any legislation about the Ocklawaha. Once every three to five years, it becomes necessary to have a draw-down of the lake. I think what baffles me is what a recent project this was. American Rivers says the Rodman Dam is imperiling the waterway. The reservoir from its headwaters at Eureka Dam to … Dozens of environmental groups have launched an online campaign to build support for undamming the Ocklawaha River, a waterway most Floridians have never seen. If a seedling manages to take root, it is quickly drowned when the water comes back up. When the artificial lake returns, they will be shrouded in darkness until the next draw-down. We were now official members of the “Cannon Springs Foot Club”. Though we traveled by boat, we saw several people on kayaks, floating downstream and past the springs. The drawdown exposes the original Ocklawaha River channel along with the remains of hundreds of Cypress tree stumps that once lined the banks of the river. Rodman Reservoir, a 9,500-acre lake about 15 miles southwest of Palatka, was formed in 1968 when the Corps built the first of two planned dams on the Ocklawaha River. In 1963 the project obtained support from President John F. Kennedy, who set aside one million dollars to the project. Breaching the dam would lower water levels along miles of waterway between the dam and Eureka in Marion County, and backers say doing that would allow people to experience about 20 natural springs that are now hidden under the reservoir. Wildlife, such as black bears and the endangered manatee, would benefit by restoring land and water connectivity. It also features fishermen saying their views have changed. Saturday 6/24/17 was the 1-Year Anniversary of the creation of this "FREE THE OCKLAWAHA RIVER BY THE BREACHING OF RODMAN DAM" online petition. Get out there! This is due to the accumulation of invasive plants and muck. A little further downstream, we spotted a narrow channel, and turned right towards Cannon Spring. The dam and reservoir were the first of a set of two that the Army Corps of Engineers planned on building. Your email address will not be published. Restroom: At Kirkpatrick Dam: Information Center: Four major public boat ramps on the eastern shore of the river provide river access for boaters: Eureka Dam; Kirkpatrick Dam (Rodman) We recently joined the Florida Springs Council on a short expedition on the river. It was the most beautiful sight, until the Florida Barge Canal came through and destroyed it all! Though the structure serves no functional purpose, local proponents “Save the Rodman Reservoir” fight for the dam. Other than a couple of misspellings, there is one other issue with this quote. Seen here is Rodman Dam along the Ocklawaha River. The waters of the Ocklawaha are especially dark, which allows for spectacular reflections with the right lighting. For more than 50 years, the river and its fish and wildlife have suffered. However, the project officially canceled in 1991. In 1997, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection presented a plan to remove the dam. That's a legacy of the hasty construction of the dam and reservoir in the 1960s that left many trees in the reservoir's boundary. (The DEP is the same government agency responsible for the Florida State Parks System.) 15 miles of water that covers 9,500 acres makes this destination one of the best bass fishing locations in the state of Florida. The Cross Florida Barge Canal, Forever changed these calm, primordial waters. Rodman Reservoir is currently in a drawdown, where the water level goes from an average of 18′ – 20′ down to approximately 11′. Seen here is Rodman Dam along the Ocklawaha River. The Ocklawaha flows approximately 9 miles downstream from the dam into the St. Johns River. The dam and reservoir were the first of a set of two that the Army Corps of Engineers planned on building. The Cypress Bayou boat ramp is located about seven miles downriver. The Rodman Reservoir, also known as Lake Ocklawaha, is a fabricated lake located on the Ocklawaha River. The section of the reservoir from its headwaters at Eureka Dam to Paynes Landing consists of flooded woodlands. It is widely known as being a top tier and premier bass fishing destination in North Florida. They say returning the river to its historic level would  also allow 7,500 flooded acres that used to be forested floodplains to become forest again and provide a wildlife corridor, and that 8,000 acres would become valuable wetlands again. The US Forest Service has mentioned it for inclusion as a "Wild and Scenic River." Several different sized fish watched us curiously as we descended into the shallow waters; debris swirled around a couple of rocky vents at bottom. Created in 1968, the Rodman Reservoir built the earthen dam across the Ocklawaha River, leading to the St Johns River. Since the late 1960s, a trickle of the natural flow makes it to the longest river … Her group has fought 51 years for its dismantling to restore a free-flowing Ocklawaha from Silver Springs to the St. Johns River and Atlantic Ocean. Marjorie Harris Carr fought along with the FDE, to bring the river back to its natural condition. The largest of these Lost Springs in terms of flow and surface area was Marion Blue Spring, privately owned but open to all for recreational pursuits, including fishing and swimming. “[B]ut then I became not just a supporter, but a strong supporter of restoring the Ocklawaha. The Ocklawaha River watershed includes parts of the Green Swamp, most of Lake County, and portions of Marion, Alachua and Putnam counties. This can be all be changed, by removing the dam, and restoring the river to its natural state. Continuing on, the beautiful light blue color of the spring came into view. In addition to the FDE, There are now additional proponents of restoration. Your email address will not be published. This is because the lack of dry land around the trees other than when the draw-down occurs. The estimates from Florida Defender of the Environment (FDE) is 200+ manatees and 18+ species of fish would be able to migrate to the Ocklawaha from the St Johns River. “Not everybody is going to get on board. Based in north-central Florida, it was built along the Ocklawaha River to aid navigation along the Cross Florida Barge Canal. A year later President Lyndon Johnson started construction with aims to provide a quicker and safer route across Florida. Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers work out plans for next year’s budget. Due to the efforts of environmentalist Marjorie Harris Carr and Florida Defenders of the Environment (FDE) who successfully campaigned against the canal. Tree trunks and branches continually pile against the dam's upstream side. February 13, 2020 The video’s backers say Jacksonville has a lot at stake in the decision. The Ocklawaha—a unique river of natural springs, abundant fish and manatees—was unnecessarily devastated in 1968, when Rodman Dam was built for a canal that was never completed. Our first stop was at a spectacularly large cypress that is hollowed out at the bottom. One may ask “what is the Rodman Reservoir?” To explain, it starts with the history of the never completed, Cross Florida Barge Canal. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, and Tom Wright, R-Port Orange – and county commissioners from Alachua and Lake counties praising proposals to restore the river’s historic condition. 1. Their quote also doesn’t say anything about the harm it is having on resident animals. The springs will only be visible until March 1st 2020, when the reservoir is planned to begin filling up. It is now part of the State Park System. Restoring the function of the Ocklawaha River and its associated floodplain forest that are now submerged beneath Rodman Reservoir is a relatively straightforward process and can be accomplished at a cost far less than most restoration projects. The dam turns the Ocklawaha River in Lake Rodman into a 9,200-acre reservoir. But we need to listen.”, More: Waters close to Duval on ‘most endangered’ list for country. Launch point: The launch is located at Kirkpatrick Dam Canoe/Kayak Launch on the west side of the dam spillway. Some, like Cannon Springs, were visible again and drew visitors when reservoir levels were temporarily drawn down early this year for plant control that's done every few years. Several springs known as ‘hidden’ or ‘lost’ springs’ are also now revealed with the lower water level and today’s paddle takes Florida Paddle Notes to a few of these springs. Today the Rodman Reservoir is famous for providing what amounts to a large scale fish farm for premier largemouth bass. Share your adventure to encourage others as well. Rodmans waters, located southwest of Palatka, cover approximately 9600 acres. The Rodman dam, built for a 50-year life, was finished 52 years ago. Dec 23, 2020 at 6:00 AM Seen here is Rodman Dam along the Ocklawaha River. Earlier proposals to breach the dam, some dating back 25 years, were derailed by key members of the Legislature committed to protecting a popular sportfishing industry at the Rodman Reservoir. The Silver feeds into the Ocklawaha, which is also fed by headwaters in Central Florida's Green Swamp and by water originating in Lake Apopka, producing the St. Johns’ largest tributary. Restore 3 Rivers & 50 Springs with 1 Solution Explore the Fish of the Ocklawaha, Silver & St. Johns River Learn how restoring the Ocklawaha will uncover 20 springs drowned by the dam and help restore Silver Springs. It is consistently ranked in popular fishing magazines as one of the top ten best bass lakes in the country. Only two sections of the canal were constructed before the project was canceled. Backers say reconnecting the three rivers will allow easy movement of fish including striped bass, American shad, mullet and channel and white catfish, and could draw manatees to inland areas they can only reach now by traveling through man-made locks. Right-Of-Way of the best bass lakes in the decision close to Duval on ‘ most endangered ’ list country! Dec 23, 2020 at 6:00 AM seen here is Rodman dam cuts the. An atv trail is located about seven miles downriver of restoring the Ocklawaha flows approximately 9 downstream... 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