Friday, December 18, 2020

Free the Ocklawaha River! Take Action Now

Please join us in urging Governor DeSantis to restore the Great Florida Riverway. It is time to save the Ocklawaha, Silver, and St. Johns Rivers, as well as historic Silver Springs. 

Take action here!

The Great Florida Riverway is one of Florida’s environmental and economic treasures — and it needs your help.

This vast, 217-mile river system reaches from the Green Swamp in Central Florida all the way to the Atlantic Ocean via the Ocklawaha and St. Johns Rivers. The Great Florida Riverway is home to 50 freshwater springs: 25 at historic Silver Springs, 20 on the Ocklawaha River, and five in the Harris Chain of Lakes. Like the Everglades to the south, restoring the Great Florida Riverway is vital to improving the ecosystem and economic health of North and Central Florida.

The Ocklawaha, the heart of the Great Florida Riverway, was dammed in 1968. Constructed for a canal that was never completed, the dam flooded over 7,500 acres of forested wetlands, 20 springs, and 16 miles of the Ocklawaha River. The continued decline of water quality, spring flow, wetland forests, fish, wildlife, and recreation has led American Rivers to designate the Ocklawaha River as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2020.

Restoring the Great Florida Riverway by breaching this dam will re-establish access to essential habitat for manatees, bring back migratory fish, connect three river ecosystems, historic Silver Springs, and restore a lost riverway for anglers and paddlers from Ocklawaha’s Harris Chain of Lakes to the Atlantic. Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has prioritized protecting and improving the state’s waterways, creating a historic opportunity to save the Great Florida Riverway.

Learn more here 

Go here to send the letter below.  

To: Governor DeSantis

As Florida's governor, I am asking you to reaffirm your commitment to Florida waterways by reuniting four ecosystems that create the Great Florida Riverway: the Ocklawaha River, Silver Springs, the St. Johns River and the South Atlantic. Like the Everglades to the South, restoring the Great Florida Riverway is vital to improving overall ecological and economic health for North and Central Florida. The Great Florida Riverway is a vast, 217-mile system of rivers and springs that flows north from the Green Swamp near Lake Apopka, is fed by Silver Springs, and continues past Palatka to the Lower St. Johns River estuary on the Atlantic Ocean. The Riverway is home to fifty springs: 25 at historic Silver Springs, 20 on the Ocklawaha River, and five in the Harris Chain of Lakes.

Over 50 years ago, the Great Florida Riverway was harmed when the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam was built as part of the misguided Cross Florida Barge Canal project, severing the Ocklawaha’s connection to the rest of the Riverway. The dam flooded over 7,500 acres of thriving forested wetlands, 20 springs, and 16 miles of the Ocklawaha River. Every day the dam is in place, it causes harm to this special place and all the fish and wildlife that depend on these waterways.

The continued decline of water quality, spring flow, wetland forests, fish and wildlife has led American Rivers to designate the Ocklawaha River — the heart of the Great Florida Riverway — as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2020. The environmental toll has reduced recreational use and negatively impacted the economy of Putnam and Marion Counties. These declines have also threatened the environmental and economic resiliency of downstream counties, including Duval County. As Florida’s Governor, you can restore this historic Riverway and radically improve the health of these important ecosystems.

By restoring the Great Florida Riverway by breaching the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam, you can restore a lost riverway for anglers, boaters and paddlers from the Atlantic Ocean to the Harris Chain of Lakes; attract more federal funding, create new jobs, boost the northeast Florida economy, bring back migratory fish, connect three river ecosystems, and provide access to essential habitat for manatees. During these challenging times, outdoor recreation is growing, and enhancing this riverway will benefit our communities, all Floridians and out-of-area visitors.

We urge you to restore the Great Florida Riverway in accordance with Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway Unit Management Plan. Your leadership can provide a legacy of improving the health and resiliency of three river systems and the economic vitality of northeast Florida.

Thank you for your engagement on so many environmental challenges. We know we can count on you to save the Great Florida Riverway, which in turn will revitalize the Ocklawaha, Silver and St. Johns Rivers, as well as historic Silver Springs.