The FWC and Ocklawaha River Restoration

The FWC and Ocklawaha River Restoration
An Information, Opinion, & Sources Report
Compiled by "Ocklawahaman" Paul Nosca
Edition: 04 September 2012

The following excerpted paragraphs are from the 07 June 2012 final report entitled "RODMAN RESERVOIR HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE" by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
This entire report is available at: http://www.fws.gov/filedownloads/ftp_JacksonvilleFO/Ocklawaha%20-%20Rodman/2012%20Earth%20Justice/FWC%202012%20Final%20Report%20Rodman%20Reservoir%20Historical%20Perspective%20v6-7-12.doc "Dr. O.E. Frye, former Executive Director of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (GFC), wrote a letter on March 31, 1971 to then Governor Reubin Askew stating the GFC’s position regarding the Reservoir. Dr. Frye stated that 'The Rodman Pool should be drained to restore the Ocklawaha River flood plain to its original scenic qualities. While it is tempting to retain a reservoir that has produced good fishing in its three years of existence, we feel obligated to evaluate it in terms of its ecological impact over a period of more than its short lifespan.' Dr. Frye’s justifications for this position included the proliferation of aquatic macrophytes, cost of removing floating trees for many years, saving trees currently inundated, removing the barrier that prevented annual striped bass migration, and relieving the tax burden created by the Reservoir as opposed to a near tax-free restored river. Subsequent letters in 1990 and 2001 from Brad Hartman, GFC and FWC Director of Environmental Services, expressed support for partially restoring the Ocklawaha River."
"On January 21, 1994, the Florida DEP applied for and was granted a 5-year Special Use Permit by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for the occupancy of approximately 600 acres within the Ocala National Forest that included portions of the Kirkpatrick Dam and the Reservoir. The permit stipulated that upon expiration, DEP would remove all structures within a reasonable time. If DEP failed to remove the structures, they would become the property of the United States.

"The USFS permit allowing occupancy of federal lands expired on December 31, 1999, but was extended twice allowing for additional time to apply for a new occupancy agreement describing management intentions. On May 30, 2002, the USFS prepared a special use permit for DEP’s signature which would allow DEP to continue to occupy USFS lands. This permit would require DEP to agree to a mandatory restoration schedule ensuring that the restoration would be completed by June 30, 2006. DEP determined that they would be unable to satisfy conditions required by the USFS due to funding and permitting issues, and declined to sign the special use permit.

"The USFS prepared a special use permit in March 2010 once again for DEP’s signature, which would allow DEP to continue to occupy USFS lands. This permit required that DEP develop a final operating plan for the restoration of the Ocklawaha River within 12 months. DEP determined that they would be unable to satisfy the conditions required by the USFS due to funding and permitting issues, and again declined to sign the special use permit."

"2) Striped bass – Florida is the southern-most natural location for striped bass in North America. The St. Johns River and its tributaries are the only locations where the Atlantic strain occurs in Florida, and historically never produced large population numbers. Striped bass population data from the 1980’s through the 2000’s strongly suggests that no natural reproduction is occurring in the St. Johns River. The federal hatchery in Welaka, Florida currently attempts to stock striped bass annually. Following the three years that striped bass were not stocked, no representatives of those missing year classes were observed. These stocked striped bass have been documented from the middle reaches of the St. Johns River near Lake Monroe all the way to the Nassau River.

"The prevailing thought before construction of the Kirkpatrick Dam was that striped bass spawning would be disrupted and their upstream passage in the Ocklawaha River would be impeded. While no definitive proof exists that the Kirkpatrick Dam prevented striped bass from naturally spawning, limited movement of striped bass through the Buckman Locks has been documented."

"March 16, 1990 – GFC Director of Environmental Services sent an internal letter expressing support for restoring the Ocklawaha River"

"March 28, 1996 – Letter from GFC Director of Environmental Services to the Florida State Clearinghouse Department of Community Affairs stated that GFC supported the Partial Restoration alternative"

"June 13, 2001 – Letter from FWC Director of Environmental Services to the Florida State Clearinghouse Department of Community Affairs stated that FWC supported the Partial Restoration alternative"
NOTE: The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (GFC) was the predecessor agency to the current Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). END.