Understanding Public Attitudes Towards Partial Restoration of the Ocklawaha River
AbstractThe Ocklwaha River was dammed due to the partial construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. This dam, originally named the Rodman Dam but later renamed Kirkpatrick Dam, changed the historical ecosystem of the surrounding area. The damming resulted in negative impacts to certain fish and plant species within the reservoir and river, in addition to poor water quality upstream. However, it formed a large reservoir that became a favored location for centralized bass fishing. While the debate on the correct course of action in regards to the Kirkpatrick Dam has been ongoing for five decades, there are many skewed perceptions in comparison to what is scientifically true. In this paper, we analyze trends between the survey particpants demographics and their opinion on whether they are for or against breaching the Rodman Dam in order to partially restore the Ocklawaha River and the surrounding floodplain, and the reasoning behind their held opinion. While there are many individuals who hold perceptions on dam removal that are false, the most popular reasons that individuals support breaching the Rodman Dam are scientifically true. However, the popularity of individuals holding false perceptions on the Ocklawaha Rivers restoration highlights the need for more scientific education and outreach program to assist in reducing these misconceptions and to reduce residents’ uncertainty on the future of the Ocklawaha River.
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