‘It’s not a question of whether the river will be restored, it’s just a question of when’: Attorney in Rodman Reservoir case speaks on appeal

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 11:13 PM EDT
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INTERLACHEN, Fla. (WCJB) -A Gainesville-based environmental protection group recently lost an appeal to get rid of the Kirkpatrick Dam at the Rodman Reservoir, but they are now looking to turn the efforts from one state agency to the state government itself.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that they are “affirming the dismissal of complaint” against the Florida Defenders of the Environment, or FDE, stating that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to review the Florida Forrest Service’s lack of enforcement of the state of Florida keeping the dam running, but not having the special use permit to use the land.

Due to this most recent appellate court decision, Bruce Kaster, one of the attorneys working on FDE’s case, says they may now look into suing the state itself.

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“We’re considering whether to concentrate our efforts against the state of Florida and leave it to the Biden administration to address the failure of the Forrest Service to take appropriate action and make good on their long time commitment of restoration of the Ocklawaha River,” said Kaster.

While groups such as FDE are fighting to restore the river, local fisherman groups such as the Marion County Bassmasters and its president, Daniel Tillis, say keeping the Rodman Reservoir there is helping water quality.

“If you get rid of that dam, they say it will reduce salinity that’s not the case. If you look in certain areas throughout the state salinity is moving up into freshwater because there is no dam system there to protect that,” said Tillis.

Kaster says the science behind restoring the river speaks for itself.

“The overwhelming science is in favor of restoration. The economic benefits to Putnam County and Marion County are overwhelming if you restore the river compared to what it is now,” said Kaster.

Tillis simply hopes to be able to enjoy his favorite fishing hole for years to come.

“Keep Rodman there for many generations to come to be able to enjoy what I’ve been enjoying since I was a teenager,” said Tillis.

But, for Kaster and FDE they won’t quit until the Ocklawaha River is back to the way it was before the Kirkpatrick Dam was put in place over 40 years ago.

“It’s just a matter of time. It’s not a question of whether the river will be restored, it’s just a question of when it will be restored,” said Kaster exuberantly.

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