The Free the Dam Protest marks the 48th Anniversary of President Nixon’s Stop Order halting construction of The Cross Florida Barge Canal, now known as the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway.
Marjorie Harris Carr, past president of Florida Defenders of the Environment played a key role in fighting against the continuing of the canal through the Ocklawaha River. In January of 1971 a federal judge issued an injunction that stopped construction of the canal. This was immediately followed by President Richard Nixon officially halting construction due to the environmental damage it would cause. Today the Rodman Dam, a.k.a the Kirkpatrick Dam, is a reminder of the fight that continues to this day to have the dam removed. The fight to save the Ocklawaha River has inspired many artists, poets and musicians over the years to include Will McLean, Gamble Rogers, Don Grooms and Whitey Markle.
For more in-depth reading on the history of the Cross Florida Barge Canal see From Exploitation to Conservation A History of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, by Steven Noll and M. David Tegeder and/or check out their website Ditch of Dreams.
Free the Dam Kayak Protest…
Today, the Boll Green Aquaholics will be holding an event to mark this day and keep the Free the Dam protest alive until the damn Dam comes down. Those interested in participating can get details on the BGA Facebook Event Page. Let your voice be heard! See you on the water!
Scenes from the Rodman Reservoir Drawdown…
Text of President Nixon’s Stop Order…
Stop Order issued by U.S. President Richard M. Nixon on 19 January 1971 http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=3044 ordering a halt to construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal project:“I am today ordering a halt to further construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal to prevent potentially serious environmental damages.“The purpose of the canal was to reduce transportation costs for barge shipping. It was conceived and designed at a time when the focus of Federal concern in such matters was still almost completely on maximizing economic return.“In calculating that return, the destruction of natural, ecological values was not counted as a cost, nor was a credit allowed for actions preserving the environment.“A natural treasure is involved in the case of the Barge Canal–the Ocklawaha River–a uniquely beautiful semi-tropical stream, one of a very few of its kind in the United States, which would be destroyed by the construction of the Canal.“The Council on Environmental Quality has recommended to me that the project be halted, and I have accepted its advice. The Council has pointed out to me that the project could endanger the unique wildlife of the area and destroy this region of unusual and unique natural beauty.
“The total cost of the project if it were completed would be about $180 million. About $50 million has already been committed to construction. I am asking the Secretary of the Army to work with the Council on Environmental Quality in developing recommendations for the future of the area.
“The step that I have taken today will prevent a past mistake from causing permanent damage. But more important we must assure that in the future we take not only full but also a timely account of the environmental impact of such projects–so that instead of halting the damage, we prevent it.”