Once more Save Rodman Reservoir, Inc. (SRR) has thwarted an attempt to destroy one of Florida’s most popular and productive bass fisheries.
This time around, environmental groups, led by Florida Defenders of the Environment and Putnam County Environmental Council, tried to convince the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to destroy the dam on the Ocklawaha River reservoir.
“The Corps is getting ready to dredge the St. Johns River in the Jacksonville area and the environmental groups wanted it to use some of that money to take out Rodman,” said Ed Taylor, SRR president.
The groups also took Corps personnel on a tour of Rodman to help make their argument. Fortunately, an SRR member saw the event, asked about it, and notified Taylor.
“I’m usually told about these things, if I’m not invited,” he laughed. “But not this time.”
In phone calls and e-mails, Taylor quickly voiced SRR’s objections to removal of the dam.
“I find it very disturbing that there was a tour of Rodman Reservoir, consisting of several government officials together with environmental groups and that we were not invited,” he wrote. “I am sure that they only gave their side of the story (which is full of false statements). Now I will give our response.”
- In 1991, Congress turned over all of the lands and structures pertaining to Lake Ocklawaha (Rodman) to the state of Florida.
- Rodman is a future potable water source.
- The reservoir has more visitors annually than all but 12 Florida state parks.
- It prevents 50 to 60 percent of nutrients from reaching the St. Johns River.
Additionally, guide Sean Rush said this in a letter to the Corps:
“Sometimes either by design or folly man creates something wonderful and this is clearly one of those instances.
“In spite of what you may hear, 95 percent of the people in this area want this lake retained.”
In short order, Taylor received a call from the Corps’ Eric Bush, assuring him that his agency was not going to take any action on Rodman.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” Taylor said. “The environmentalists have lost every battle. When are they going to learn?”
Rodman was built during the late 1960s, as part of the ill-advised Cross Florida Barge Canal from Yankeetown to Palatka. The project finally was deauthorized in 1990, but work had been stopped long before because of environmental concerns. Rodman, however, evolved into a thriving ecosystem of its own, becoming home to many species of birds and wildlife, as well as a world-class bass fishery and popular tourist destination.
(This article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)