Voices of the Great Florida Riverway

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Economic Impact

“There are good arguments for breaching the dam in 2021. For one, the reservoir is filling up with muck. To maintain the status quo, the state will have to start paying to dredge it out at some point, along with paying increasing maintenance costs for the dam, which is already past its life expectancy. As it is, the state has to draw down the reservoir every few years as part of measures to control the growth of invasive aquatic plants that flourish in the reservoir environment.”

– Mark Howard, Florida Trend, June 2020

“The recent Ocklawaha River drawdown gave us a glimpse of what the river once was and could be again. At a time when Florida’s water issues are at the forefront, restoring this special part of wild Florida makes ecological and economic sense.” 

– Julie Wraithmell, Executive Director, Audubon Florida 

“I see a free-flowing Ocklawaha River as a favorable economic impact in the Putnam County area. It’s time to return the area to its natural state and stop suppressing the natural beauty that is being suffocated in order to please a small number of sportsmen.” 

– Jolene Everette, Everette Distributing Co.

A University of Florida study on the Ocklawaha River, not including Silver Springs State Park, confirmed that ‘the economic impact from eco-tourists who use the natural portions of the Ocklawaha River is twice that of the anglers and boaters at Rodman Reservoir.’ Use of the reservoir sites has been declining since records began in 2004.

– Chris Spontak, President, Silver Springs Alliance

Fish Habitat Recovery

“The Rodman/Kirkpatrick dam severed the vital migratory pathway for fish and wildlife that the Ocklawaha once provided. As such, the dam initiated and sustained regional declines in fisheries and in fish and shellfish populations.”  

– Ed Lowe, Director of Environmental Sciences and then Chief Scientist at SJRWMD from 1984 to 2015

“The fish have dwindled. We’ve lost migratory species. How can you continue to turn your back on this River? We need to get our wild scenic river – and fish back.”

– Erika Ritter, Owner and Operator, A Cruising Down the River, Eureka, FL

“My mission is to preserve old Florida’s outdoor heritage and a legacy of living in harmony with the environment. Anytime we can restore a waterway back to its natural free-flowing state – that’s a good thing. The closer we can get back to the natural order of the St. Johns River Watershed – the better off we’re going to be.”  

– Rami Ashouri, Owner and Fishing Captain, Saturiba Co., Jacksonville, FL

Manatee Conservation

“Restoring natural flow of the Ocklawaha River and its 20 freshwater springs would provide vital winter refuge to an estimated 1,000 manatees that shelter at impermanent power plants.” 

 – Elizabeth Fleming, Senior Florida Representative, Defenders of Wildlife

Springs Restoration & Water Conservation

“Silver Springs will never be fully restored without the removal of the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam on the Ocklawaha River. Migratory fish from the Atlantic Ocean and St. Johns River, including striped bass, channel catfish, striped mullet, American shad, American eels, and Atlantic sturgeon, are critical to a productive Silver Springs ecosystem.”

 – Dr. Robert Knight, Executive Director, Florida Springs Institute

“As a long-time competitive tournament bass fisherman, I’ve loved fishing Rodman and was a supporter of Save Rodman. But, now that I’ve learned about the collateral damage to our natural springs in the Ocklawaha, I find that I’ve changed my mind.  As great a bass fishery as Rodman is – I don’t think it’s worth killing the natural springs.” 

– Bill Rossi, Bass Fisherman and Retired UF Professor, FL.

“Ocklawaha River restoration would increase freshwater flows in the Lower Ocklawaha and St. John Rivers by millions of gallons a day due to less evaporation off the artificial pool and uncovering of more than 20 springs flooded by the Rodman Dam.” 

– James Gross, Geologist and Executive Director of Florida Defenders of the Environment.


“Our guests do not come to Welaka for the Rodman Pool. They talk about how great it would be to travel up the Ocklawaha to the Silver River.  I, myself, have wished I could boat up past the Dam. The benefits of new recreation far outweigh keeping this Dinosaur Dam.”  

– Kevin Finch, Owner and Operator, Welaka Lodge & Resort, Welaka, FL

My boat passengers want to see a healthy, natural waterway and the creatures that inhabit them. The dam has created an unreliable recreational resource that is often impassable by boat due to invasive aquatic plants.”

– Karen Chadwick, River Guide, NorthStar Charters

“I have been a full-time Florida river guide for over 22 years. Of all the tours I lead none are as unique and ecologically significant as the Ocklawaha. Unanimously, my customers end this tour with hopeful comments about the day when this river will be allowed to flow freely again.”

– Lars Andersen, Owner and Operator, Adventure Outpost, Fort White, FL