A Drowned Forest on the Ocklawaha River

Moisture-heavy clouds move across a drowned forest on the Ocklawaha River early in the morning.

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Moisture-heavy clouds move across a drowned forest on the Ocklawaha River early in the morning. This lost forest is a remnant of the failed Cross Florida Barge Canal, a project that impacted around 15,000 acres of wetlands along the river.

Construction of the Kirkpatrick Dam in the 1960s as part of the abandoned project saw the loss of a free, natural, nutrient-cleansing machine in the form of wetlands above and below the dam. This once and future floodplain forest continues to be maintained as an artificial lake behind the dam, save for rare occasions when the impounded water is released and the water levels drop by seven feet. Wetlands species such as amaranth and juvenile cypress seedlings mistakenly sprout along the newly-exposed ground, believing that the fertile alluvial soil will stick around for a while.

Drawdowns occur within the space of two seasons. By spring, the dam is closed and the wetlands begin to flood, covering the drowned forest for years.

Learn more about how you can help Free the Ocklawaha.

This was made with a Calumet 4×5 monorail camera using Ilford FP4+ 125 film and scanned with an Epson Perfection v850 Pro. Ilex-Calumet 215mm Lens. Shot near Orange Springs in Marion County, Florida on the morning of January 12, 2020.

Check out the Trip Report from this day to learn more about this image!

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