Ocklawaha River advocates envision major recreation hubs

Proponents of a free-flowing Ocklawaha River have never tired of paddling upstream in pursuit of their decades-long cause and Tuesday they announced plans for a new effort that aims to unite advocates and anglers for the good of the entire St. Johns River system.

They envision the Buckman Lock, which controls the flow from Rodman Reservoir into the St. Johns, being partially converted into a recreational center for fishing, educational programs, duck hunting, camping and viewing of wildlife — including the manatees that are expected to grow in numbers with an open river and spring system.

The Rodman Dam area would include upgraded boat ramps and potentially a restaurant, recreation outfitter, playground and other amenities.

University of Florida landscape architecture students created both projects.

Margaret Spontak, president of Free the Ocklawaha River Coalition for Everyone, said the ideas are part of a multiyear effort to eventually restore the river.