As if mankind hasn’t already done enough damage to the Ocklawaha River system, now along comes a proposal by a Fort McCoy campground to build a 400-slip marina and three-quarter-mile-long boardwalk along the shores of the Rodman Reservoir. Continue reading to see the editorial in the Gainesville Sun.
Editorial: Injury to injury
As if mankind hasn’t already done enough damage to the Ocklawaha River system, now along comes a proposal by a Fort McCoy campground to build a 400-slip marina and three-quarter-mile-long boardwalk along the shores of the Rodman Reservoir.
It is an idea that is so bad, that flies in the face of so much scientific evidence, we are stupefied that it continues to be given merit.
The marina-boardwalk project is being proposed by the Lake Ocklawaha RV Park. So far, those opposed to it include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District, Florida Defenders of the Environment, the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Save the Manatee Club and the Putnam County Environmental Council, or PCEC. And that’s just for starters.
The PCEC, which has taken the lead in opposing the project, launched a letter-writing campaign that delivered more than 500 letters of protest to the St. Johns River Water Management District.
The widespread objections to building such a massive recreational facility on the Rodman are numerous.
First, it undoubtedly would add further to the environmental degradation of the Ocklawaha. Already the river has been destructively damaged by the 1968 damming that created the 14,000-acre Rodman. Thousands of acres of the Ocala National Forest, including irreplaceable wetlands and wildlife habitat, have been flooded into oblivion.
On top of that, the dam has all but wiped out the fish population in the Lower Ocklawaha and Silver rivers because it has cut them off from the St. Johns River.
Second, the Ocklawaha is being eyed by everybody from Ocala to Orlando as a potential source of fresh drinking water once we have tapped the aquifer for all we can, which water managers estimate will be within a decade or so.
Third, federal and state agencies for decades have advocated the removal of the Kirpatrick Dam on the Rodman to allow for the restoration of the Ocklawaha to its natural state. Every Florida governor since Claude Kirk in the late 1960s has supported the restoration, but the Legislature has abrogated its duty to protect the river by refusing to fund the restoration. Nonetheless, the marina proposal flies in the face of longstanding, science-based regulatory agency policy calling for breaching the dam and restoring the river.
Fourth, the DEP is quietly preparing a new round of permit applications to at long last remove the Kirkpatrick Dam and restore the river. Allowing this project would be senseless.
Last, but hardly least, the area is rife with unique wildlife habitat, including that of the Florida black bear, as well as countless identified archeological sites that would be endangered by construction, not to mention more people.
The Ocklawaha River, and by extension the Rodman, is without argument one of Florida’s most important sources of future water supply. With that said, and with so much official and citizen opposition and so much ecological and historical risk evident, we have to wonder why this proposal is being given serious consideration.
We humans have done enough damage to this wonderful and wild river. Why are we contemplating doing even more?