Bill may protect dam
many want destroyed
SA House committee has budget. Bush had sought $800,000 to start
abill t t w d the restoration work this year, to prepare
approved a bill that would roads around the dam area and pump
protect the Rodman Reservoir, nutrient-rich sediments from behind the
halting the dam's destruction. dam into an adjacent borrow pit
The money the governor requested is
Bym C in the House version of the budget, but not
By CRAIG PITTMAN ,- 7 0 the Senate version. Instead, the Senate
rTmes staff Writer would spend $800,000 for a fish hatchery
Every time the Legislature convenes, and $300,000 for the new park.
there is a renewed battle over Rodman A legislative staff report estimates that
Reservoir. Even though Gov. Jeb Bush has the dam needs up to $2.5-million in repairs
joined the ranks of those who want to tear if it is to remain in place, and that operating
down the dam and free the Ocklawaha it each year costs about $500,000. If the
River, the fightgoes on this year as well. state were to keep the dam, it also would
Over the objections of environmental have to pay people whose land was flooded
groups, the House Natural Resources by it years ago. The estimated cost of those
Committee approved a bill Monday to des- payments is at least $9.4-million.
ignate the Central Florida reservoir a state A 1995 report on restoring the river
recreation area and preserve it estimated that tearing down the,dam could
"We got beat bad," said Eric Draper, cost between $5-million and $23.4-million.
.conservation director of Audubon of Flori- The dam'and reservoir areFemnants of
.da. ; Cross Florida Barge Ca.alwhich was
The bill. would put the state at cross sup f ges slice straight across
purposes with three federal agencies that the peninsula from the Atlantic Ocean to
want the dam destroyed, according to a the Gulf of Mexico. The canal was halted
letter federal officials sent the governor by President Richard Nixon because of
this year. The dam and reservoir partly environmental concerns.
occupy federal land that once was part of To build the reservoir, the Army Corps
the Ocala National Forest. of Engineers flattened thousands of cy-
"Accordingly, we have a deep concern press trees along the 80-mile river. When
over any legislation that would establish by .the dam was completed in 1968 it backed
law the continued existence of the Rodman the Ocklawaha up for 16 miles, flooding
Reservor," regional directors for the U.S. 9,000 acres.
Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service The Legislature repeatedly blocked ef-
and Environmental Protection Agency forts by Bush's Democratic predecessor,
wrote. Such legislation "would create a Gov. Lawton Chiles, to come up with mon-
conflict between state law and the federal ey to tear down the 7,200-foot dam. Law-
S.code of regulations." makers contended Rodman was too valu-
Federal officials could not be reached able as a popular bass-fishing lake.
for comment Monday on what they would For two years Bush refused to take a
do should the Legislature approve the bill position on the dam, giving hope to its
sponsored by Rep. Joe Pickens, R-Palatka. advocates that the Republican would take
Pickens also could not be reached, their side. But last July he announced that
The Rodman battle extends to the state he too wants to tear it down.