Restore the Great Florida Riverway

We hope you will join 1000 Friends of Florida in urging Governor Ron DeSantis to restore the Great Florida Riverway! As a member of the Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition – for Everyone (FORCE), we are prioritizing the breach of the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam on the Ocklawaha River because it will also save the Silver and St. Johns Rivers, as well as historic Silver Springs and their riverine ecosystems. This aging, unpermitted infrastructure will have been in place for a full half century this upcoming January. It is time to end. Please take a moment to sign this letter to Governor DeSantis.
We hope you will join 1000 Friends of Florida in urging Governor Ron DeSantis to restore the Great Florida Riverway! As a member of the Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition – for Everyone (FORCE), we are prioritizing the breach of the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam on the Ocklawaha River because it will also save the Silver and St. Johns Rivers, as well as historic Silver Springs and their riverine ecosystems. This aging, unpermitted infrastructure will have been in place for a full half century this upcoming January. It is time to end. Please take a moment to sign this letter to Governor DeSantis.
Dear Governor DeSantis:

As Florida’s governor, please reaffirm your commitment to Florida waterways by reuniting four ecosystems that create the Great Florida Riverway: the Ocklawaha River, Silver Springs, the St. Johns River and the South Atlantic. Like the Everglades to the South, restoring the Great Florida Riverway is vital to improving overall ecological and economic health for North and Central Florida. 

The Great Florida Riverway is a vast, 217-mile system of rivers and springs that flows north from the Green Swamp near Lake Apopka, is fed by Silver Springs, and continues past Palatka to the Lower St. Johns River estuary on the Atlantic Ocean. The Riverway is home to fifty springs: 25 at historic Silver Springs, 20 on the Ocklawaha River, and five in the Harris Chain of Lakes.

Over 50 years ago, the Great Florida Riverway was harmed when the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam was built as part of the misguided Cross Florida Barge Canal project, severing the Ocklawaha’s connection to the rest of the Riverway. The dam flooded over 7,500 acres of thriving forested wetlands, 20 springs, and 16 miles of the Ocklawaha River. Every day the dam is in place, it causes harm to this special place and all the fish and wildlife that depend on these waterways.

The continued decline of water quality, spring flow, wetland forests, fish and wildlife has led American Rivers to designate the Ocklawaha River — the heart of the Great Florida Riverway — as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2020. The environmental toll has reduced recreational use and negatively impacted the economy of Putnam and Marion Counties. These declines have also threatened the environmental and economic resiliency of downstream counties, including Duval County. As Florida’s Governor, you can restore this historic Riverway and radically improve the health of these important ecosystems.

By restoring the Great Florida Riverway by breaching the Rodman/Kirkpatrick Dam, you can restore a lost riverway for anglers, boaters and paddlers from the Atlantic Ocean to the Harris Chain of Lakes; attract more federal funding, create new jobs, boost the northeast Florida economy, bring back migratory fish, connect three river ecosystems, , and provide access to essential habitat for manatees. During these challenging times, outdoor recreation is growing, and enhancing this riverway will benefit our communities, all Floridians and out-of-area visitors.

We urge you to restore the Great Florida Riverway in accordance with Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway Unit Management Plan. Your leadership can provide a legacy of improving the health and resiliency of three river systems and the economic vitality of northeast Florida.

Thank you for your engagement on so many environmental challenges. We know we can count on you to save the Great Florida Riverway, which in turn will revitalize the Ocklawaha, Silver and St. Johns Rivers, as well as historic Silver Springs.

Sincerely,

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