The cynical move to save Rodman
Florida legislators appear intent on wasting fishing site and businesses that cater to them
, millions of tax dollars trying to preserve pollut- fear the loss of Rodman. Kirkpatrick has vigor-
I ed Rodman Pool. And their latest ploy is ously promoted their cause, though all the en-
breathtakingly cynical. vironmental and economic facts argue against
4 The Senate Natural Resources and Conser- maintaining Rodman.
Station Committee last week approved a plan to Studies show it would cost as little as $3
study whether the pool should be saved, though million to remove the dam. In contrast, main-
studies show Rodman is a costly boondoggle. training the pool would cost taxpayers more
The 10,000-acre reservoir in Putnam County than $13 million for operation and mainte-
was created when the Ocklawaha River was nance expenses and $3 million in repairs over
Sdammed as part of the Cross Florida Barge the next decade.
Canal. Gov. Lawton Chiles and the Florida Cabinet
Already have endorsed a plan to revive the
The vote came after Palatka City Commis- Ocklawaha. Every major conservation group in
sioper Mary Lawson Brown argued against de- the state favors the move.
stroying Rodman and restoring a free-flowing The two-year delay that Kirkpatrick advo-
Ocklawaha. She said no one was thinking how cates would result in about $5 million of tax
that would affect poor black people who fish money being wasted on more studies and
the pool for subsistence. maintenance work.
This gave the senators all the excuse they Rodman already is dying as nutrients col-
needed to go along with Sen. George Kirkpat- lect in the pool, causing fish-killing algae
rick, who had been pushing colleagues to save blooms. Silt and weeds clog its waters. Sure,
the pool. nutrient-polluted lakes offer good fishing for
Brown may be sincerely motivated, but the a time. But the same nutrients responsible for
effort to save Rodman has nothing to do with a fast-growing fish eventually will result in the
few impoverished fishermen. Indeed, with just the lake's collapse.
a fraction of the millions the state would save Restoring the Ocklawaha would slash state
by destroying Rodman, the state could feed expenses and create a wealth of opportunities
those people who rely on Rodman for the rest for canoeists, hikers, campers, fishermen and
of their lives, send them to school and help the businesses that cater to them. Draining the
them find better jobs. pool also would open some 10,000 acres of
Further, there is no shortage of lakes in this prime deer and turkey habitat that would be
part of Florida. The countryside is pocketed established as a wildlife management area,
with dozens of places to catch fish, and doing and research shows hunters pump far more
away with the dam will recreate the natural money into local economies than do fishermen.
river, not drain it. There are fish in rivers too. It's notable that Senate President Ander
Remember, this is the same Senate that re- Crenshaw, who purports to hate government
fuses to support health care, immunization, job waste, hasn't done a thing to halt this outra-
training and other programs to aid poor peo- geous bid to save Rodman. But, then, that's not
ple. Their concern isn't needy fishermen but unusual in the Florida Legislature, where pan-
special interests that profit from Rodman at during to special interests can be advertised as
taxpayers' expense. The pool is a popular bass compassion for the poor.