Special-Use permit lands Forest Service in court

Seeking an order to breach the Rodman Dam and restore the free-flowing Ocklawaha River, St Augustine based environmental and land use attorney, Jane West, informed Historic City News that her firm is representing plaintiffs Florida Defenders of the Environment.

West said the lawsuit was made necessary after the United States Forest Service denied a “Petition for Rulemaking” filed by FDE members Bruce Kaster and Joe Little earlier this year. Filing the rulemaking petition was deemed necessary to move forward in a timely manner to ensure compliance with the National Forest Management Act.

“FDE sought to enforce the terms of Rodman Dam’s Special-Use Permit that has long since expired,” West told local reporters.

The Special-Use Permit that authorizes Rodman Dam (the Kirkpatrick Dam) was issued on January 21, 1994 and expired in 1998. It was twice extended to allow the State of Florida sufficient time to apply for a new occupancy permit.

In 2010 the US Forest Service ordered FDEP to renew the prior permit to allow for coordinated maintenance of the federal lands that are being occupied by the State. The Order went unheeded and to this day, no permit exists authorizing the continued occupation of federal land.

According to the complaint filed in federal court, the agency has failed to manage their lands, specifically the Ocala National Forest, in a manner that furthers the conditions, goals and objectives listed in the Florida Plan for National Forests in Florida by allowing the continued, unpermitted use of Rodman Dam.

“When the permit expired, the State was required to remove the structures and improvements authorized by the permit to allow for partial restoration of the Ocklawaha River,” Jane West said.

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