The 1993 Florida Legislature appropriated $900,000 to study the efficacy, both economic and environmental, of the complete restoration of the Ocklawaha River, partial restoration of the river, partial retention of the reservoir, and total retention of Rodman Reservoir.
These studies were ordered because hearings before the House of Representatives and the Senate raised serious concerns about the “facts” that were being used to justify restoration of the Ocklawaha River.
Proponents of restoration are now stating that the 1995 scientific studies, both economic and environmental, support restoration, but once again there is a campaign of misinformation!
The supporters of Rodman Reservoir have only asked that the fate of Rodman Reservoir be guided by facts and reason, the following findings of the 1995 scientific reports are provided
St. Johns River Water Management District documented over 12 different habitat types within the Rodman Reservoir Complex, more habitats than the Oklawaha River, The Rodman Reservoir Complex includes over a mile of river and flood plain swamp and there is now a greater number of species inhabiting the Rodman Reservoir area than before impoundment.
St. Johns River Water Management District also found that it is highly unlikely that sediment inflows are a significant problem in retaining Rodman reservoir. It is estimated that it would take about 8,000 years to fill in the reservoir. (St. Johns River Water Management District Environmental Studies Concerning Four Alternatives for Rodman reservoir and The Oklawaha River, Volume 20 – Pages 17,18,19,77,94 & Appendix A; Volume 1O Page 137)
St. Johns River Water Management District documented 115 bird species at the Rodman Reservoir Complex versus 45 bird species on the Oklawaha River. Of the 45 species found along the river only 8 species had a higher relative abundance on the river than the reservoir complex and only 4 species were found only on the Oklawaha River. Of the 115 species found at the Rodman reservoir Complex, 74 species were observed only at the Rodman Reservoir Complex. (St. Johns River Water Management District Environmental Studies Concerning Four Alternatives for Rodman Reservoir and The Oklawaha River Volume a 1 0 – Pages 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, & 38)
Routine sampling of Rodman reservoir from 1992 to 1994 collected 38 species of fish versus 35 species of collected form the Oklawaha River. Based on biomass estimates (the appropriate analysis) provided by the St. Johns River Water Management District over 60% of Rodman Reservoir’s fish population is currently sport fish.
There has been no statistically significant shifts to non-game fish since reservoir formation. Although direct comparisons were not made it was recognized that Rodman reservoir’s fish population is orders of magnitude higher than the population that can be supported by a restored Oklawaha River. St. Johns River Water Management District also states that 13 fish species known or “expected”: to have been present in the Oklawaha River and associated tributaries in the area currently occupied by Rodman Reservoir are now absent in the reservoir.
Of the 13 species listed, the only species that has probably been eliminated from the watershed is the bluenose shiner, but this species has not been collected from the Oklawaha River main channel or its tributaries since 1949. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission documented the sport-fishing use of the Rodman Reservoir (281,611 person hours 4-5 times greater than the use of the Oklawaha River (62,209 person hours) Florida GFC documented that the sport fishery of Rodman Reservoir is better than most natural lakes for which data was available and the angler catch harvest and success is better in Rodman Reservoir than the Oklawaha River. (St. Johns River Water Management District Environmental Studies Concerning Four Alternatives for Rodman Reservoir and The Oklawaha River, Volume 15- Pages 14, 15, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 39, 40, & 52 Florida GFC Recreational Use and Fisheries Report, Pages 15, 16, 17,& 18)
Migratory fish such as striped bass, eels and mullet are found upstream of Rodman Reservoir. Although the dam impedes movement fish move through Buckman Lock. The Oklawaha River is not used for spawning by fish such as mullet and eels. St. Johns River Water Management District states it has been “suspected” that the collapse of the St. Johns River population of striped bass “may be” related to the construction of Rodman Dam because the Oklawaha was “probably” a major spawning ground,
The District incorrectly cites the 1955 study of McClane’s, because McClane never stated the Oklawaha was a major spawning ground for striped bass, McClane stated local abundance fluctuates considerably form year to year, (St. Johns River Water Management District Environmental Studies Concerning Four Alternatives for Rodman Reservoir and The Oklawaha River Volume 14- Pages 4, 5, 12, & 13- Florida GFC Recreational Use and Fisheries Report, Page 16 & 21)
St. Johns River Water Management District found that the reservoir does not inhibit the north/south movement of bears. The Oklawaha River and the Ocala National Forest are not considered by the Florida GFC as a potential reintroduction area for Florida panthers due to the density of human development.
The existing Rodman Reservoir Complex, however, could act as a wildlife corridor for panthers if they should ever enter the area. If restoration is undertaken, the Rodman reservoir would provide habitat for less than 2 bears and habitat for less than 1 panther. (St. Johns River Water Management District Environmental Studies Concerning Four Alternatives for Rodman Reservoir and The Oklawaha River, Volume 18 – pages 33, 34,& 39)
St. Johns River Water Management District documented in 1994 the upstream and downstream movement of manatees through Buckman Lock studies have repeatedly reported upstream and downstream movement of manatees through the locks, but a bubble device is now used in the lock to discourage manatee use. Rodman Reservoir with its aquatic plants offers manatees excellent habitat, but some are concerned that the lock and dam pose unacceptable risk, Since 1976 there have been 1 0 manatee mortalities recorded in the Rodman area but only 7 of the deaths were attributed to the operation of either Rodman Dam or Buckman Lock.
In contrast boats in Florida killed 51 manatees in 1989. Restoration of the Oklawaha River will place manatees at greater risk because motorized boats and manatees will be using a much smaller water area. (St. Johns River Water Management District Environmental Studies Concerning Four Alternatives for Rodman Reservoir and The Oklawaha River Volume 18 Pages 25, 26, 27, 28, & 31)
St. Johns River Water Management District’s seedback studies demonstrated that after 4 months of germination and growth no tree -species were identified for samples taken from 21 stations,
The majority of seedlings that emerged were aquatic woods, Models that were used to simulate re-vegetation indicated that no new trees would germinate in constantly mandated areas, thus under the partial restoration alternative terms would have to be reached to preclude permanent inundation of areas. (St. Johns River Water Management District Environmental Studies Concerning Four Alternatives for Rodman Reservoir and The Oklawaha River Volume 7- Pages EX -3 EX-4, 4-5, 4-6, 4-7 & 4-8; Volume 20- Page 65)
Dr. Dan Canfield compiled these “Environmental Impacts”
For more information on these issues or others that may concern you. He can be reached at:
Dr. Daniel E. Canfield Jr.
Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32653
Phone: (352) 392-9617 ext. 246