by Jennifer Carr, President, Florida Defenders of the Environment
According to NOAA Fisheries, it is estimated that more than 2 million dams in the U.S., and even more culverts and other barriers, block fish from migrating upstream. This has contributed to the decline of many fish populations.
It was recently mentioned in the Florida Specifier that the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership has an online prioritization tool for dam removal. The Rodman/Kirkpatrick ranks as one of the three highest priority dams for removal out of over 2,500 aquatic barriers in Florida, based on the amount of habitat to be gained and the condition of the watershed.
This would explain why the Ocklawaha River was ranked by American Rivers as one of the top ten Most Endangered Rivers of 2020. The Ocklawaha River is supposed to be the life force connection between Silver Springs and the St. Johns River, which flows out to the Atlantic.
But ever since that dam was constructed 50 years ago, the migratory fish populations, like Atlantic striped bass, have plummeted. However, for the first time in one FWC employee’s 18 years on the job, an Atlantic striper was caught downstream of the dam in May 2020.
We can still make the Ocklawaha great again.
October 24 is World Fish Migration Day so Florida Defenders of the Environment would like to invite you to meet us that day at the Rodman Recreation Area at 10 a.m. to help us bring awareness to the benefits of dam removal for migratory fish and manatees.
Make a large cardboard cut-out of a striped bass or a Free The Ocklawaha sign and we’ll take a socially-distanced group photo of participants spread out along the dam.
Rodman Recreation Area is at 410 Rodman Dam Rd, between Palatka and Salt Springs off of Highway 19.