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The History of the Ocklawaha

Initiated in the 1930s, the Cross Florida Barge Canal’s construction began in earnest in the 1960s. Take a journey with us through time, leading to the present-day benefits of restoring lost springs and reuniting the rivers for Florida’s plants, wildlife, and people.


Construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal (CFBC) begins in earnest.



The Rodman Dam is completed, closing off the natural flow of the Ocklawaha River, preventing numerous species from migrating the riverway and floodplain and drowning 20 springs.


Construction of the Cross FL Barge Canal is stopped by President Nixon “to prevent potentially serious environmental damages.” The dam remains despite the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission (now Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) recommendation that the dam be breached, and the river restored.


Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) recommends restoration and designation as a ‘wild and scenic river.


FL Governor Bob Graham takes position against the construction of the cross FL Barge Canal.


FDEP submits a permit application to the St Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) to restore the Ocklawaha River. The permit is not approved due to water quality concerns and SJRWMD holds the permit in abeyance indefinitely.


SJRWMD publishes a report concluding Ocklawaha River Restoration is permittable. The US Forest Service pledges full support for restoration.


The Ocklawaha River is ranked the 2nd most important river for dam removal, and one of the most endangered rivers in the US by nonprofit organization American Rivers, Inc.


Florida TaxWatch publishes “A River (No Longer) Runs Through It: Ocklawaha River Restoration” report, which discussed the Ocklawaha River Restoration Project, which aims to restore the natural flow of the Ocklawaha River by removing parts of the Rodman Dam.  

Learn more about the Ocklawaha River.

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