Feds to take renewed look at Rodman dam
PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – With environmental groups threatening a lawsuit, federal officials said last week they will analyze the effects of the Rodman dam in southern Putnam County on species such as manatees and shortnose sturgeon.
Environmentalists have long called for tearing down the north Florida dam and restoring the Ocklawaha River. In February, the environmental law firm Earthjustice filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue on behalf of the Florida Defenders of the Environment and the Florida Wildlife Federation.
The groups contend, in part, that the dam prevents manatees and shortnose sturgeon from migrating in the river.
In response, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service sent a letter Thursday saying they would start a process with other agencies to address issues related to "federally listed species."
The environmental groups will put the potential lawsuit on hold at least until the federal agencies can do the analysis.
"This is great because the government is doing the right thing without suing them,'' Earthjustice attorney David Guest said Tuesday.
The dam was created as part of the failed Cross-Florida Barge Canal project. The resulting reservoir has become a popular spot for bass fishing and has become a tourist draw for rural areas such as Putnam County.
Past attempts to tear down the dam have run into fierce political opposition from north Florida lawmakers. At one point, the dam was even renamed for the late Gainesville Sen. George Kirkpatrick, who championed efforts to keep it in place.
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