Rodman’s president, Steve Miller, quoted below is likely biased because objective studies have shown that money-wise, the area will earn more with the dam gone than with it extant. In other words, that dam is costing the area money that is being wasted.
There is no reasonable excuse to continue with this environmental monstrosity–it is coming down and it is just a matter of when.
Even though our experiences with letters to water management boards of directors have not been good, we encourage you to send in your comments. Beaten and battered though we are, we have sent in ours hoping that some flippant legal expert will not simply squash it under his/her combat boot while clipping his/her fingernails.
Rodman Opponents Ready to Gamble Again That FL Will Finally Free the Ocklawaha
Public comment portal sparks hope — and what about the manatees?
October 7, 2021 7:00 am
The Rodman Reservoir at sunrise. State officials now are considering whether to repair the dam that creates the reservoir or destroy it to restore the Ocklawaha River.
Do you play the lottery? I’ve been known to purchase a ticket or two when the payoff gets enough zeroes. The fact that I am still writing for a living should tell you how good I am at picking numbers.
Once, I ducked into Publix to purchase a Powerball ticket and discovered a knot of people around a well-tanned, white-haired customer. It was former Gov. Charlie Crist in a blue blazer, silk tie, and tassel loafers, waiting his turn to wager a couple of bucks.
“You can’t win if you don’t play,” he explained. (The fact that he became a congressman and is now running for governor again suggests he didn’t hit the jackpot, either.)
I think a similar give-it-a-shot spirit is driving a group of 60 civic and environmental groups working together under the name Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition. Like those of us who regularly queue up for lottery tickets, they have played and lost repeatedly — yet here they are in line again, ready to try their luck one more time.
“I’m hoping for the best,” Margaret Spontak, who chairs the group, told me this week.
They have gotten their hopes up over a fight in Central Florida that’s been going on since a Democrat named Lyndon Johnson held the White House. Put on your tie-dye T-shirts, kids, we’re jumping in the Hot Tub Time Machine to zoom back to the Swingin’ Sixties!
The year is 1968. The Beatles have released the “White Album,” Martin Luther King Jr. has been gunned down in Memphis, and Barbra Streisand’s “Funny Girl” is beating “2001: A Space Odyssey” at the box office. Meanwhile, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has unveiled an expensive construction project then known as the Rodman Dam. Groovy, baby!
The Rodman blocked the Ocklawaha River, inundating 9,000 acres of land, including 600 acres of trees in the Ocala National Forest. This was supposed to be the first step in constructing the Cross-Florida Barge Canal, allowing ships to slice across the state from Jacksonville to Palatka (or vice versa) instead of going down around the Keys.
The Corps thought this dam thing was a big improvement on the naturally wild Ocklawaha, because the Corps always wants to snap a leash on nature. From the perspective of 2021, though, the canal sure seems like one of the dumbest ideas ever to surface in a state that has a reputation for hatching dumb ideas (the 2000 butterfly ballot, releasing pet pythons in the Everglades, building houses where storm surges will hit, etc.)
The barge canal, as its name implies, was designed back in Depression days to create jobs and accommodate an expected flood of barge traffic. But by the 1960s, when it finally got underway, the need for make-work government jobs had diminished, as had the demand for barges to transport goods (thanks, interstate highway system!). That made the high cost of canal construction hard to justify. The word “boondoggle” came up a lot.
Worse, to make the canal work would require the Corps to cut down into the state’s aquifer, where the canal’s seawater would turn our primary source of drinking water brackish.
Still, the Corps was game to give it a whirl. After all, this was the can-do, ask-not Sixties.