On February 4, river lovers united at Lake Apopka, Ocala, Palatka and Jacksonville to celebrate the Great Florida Riverway and to activate the 2023 Reunite the Rivers effort. Attendees enjoyed live music, good food, craft beer and fun activities while organizing to support restoring the Ocklawaha River.
The Great Florida Riverway is a vast 217-mile system beginning at Lake Apopka, flowing north along the Ocklawaha River, past Silver Springs, and ending where the St. Johns River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The river was dammed as part of the failed Cross Florida Barge Canal in 1968, severing a popular boating waterway and natural migratory route for fish, manatees and other wildlife. The obsolete or vestigial dam destroyed 7,500 acres of forested wetlands, 16 miles of river, 20 springs and significantly impacted Silver Springs undermining the resiliency of this vital system for more than 50 years.
Before the dam, the Ocklawaha River and its springs contributed to the delicate balance of the St. Johns’ salt and freshwater that historically enabled healthy underwater grasses to thrive and provide critical habitat for fresh and saltwater fish. Today, submerged grasses in the St. Johns have been decimated with back-to-back storms and are vulnerable to saltwater intrusion from sea level rise. Reuniting the rivers is key to a resilient St. Johns.
Join us to reunite Silver Springs, the Ocklawaha and the St. Johns Rivers.
Contact Governor DeSantis and your legislators in support of Reuniting the Rivers. You can also pick up your own “Reunite the Rivers” yard sign at one of our upcoming events.
The time has come to finally free the Ocklawaha River and reconnect the Ocklawaha, Silver and St. Johns Rivers!