"The Ocklawaha and Silver rivers offer us a unique glimpse into our past that must be protected for future generations to cherish." - Jeff Sowards, Aquatic Preserve Manager
Because of its location in the central highlands and its protection from geological fluctuations in sea level, the Ocklawaha River is one of the oldest rivers in Florida.
The dark-water Ocklawaha, spring-run Silver River and their floodplain swamp support a diverse natural system of flora and fauna.
The aquatic preserve is home to 110 species and 12 families of fishes.
This area is rich in cultural resources; human habitation dates back to 7500 B.C.
Forty-three percent of federally listed threatened or endangered species rely directly or indirectly on wetlands for their survival.
Being a member of the Silver River Working Group and the Marion County Water Resources Stakeholders Group enables the Oklawaha River Aquatic Preserve to be on the cutting edge of local issues that affect the preserve. Land use and water resource decisions that significantly impact the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers are made on the local level. Through this partnership, the aquatic preserve can provide input to local and county officials.
Education and Outreach
Programs to educate Marion and Citrus county students in aquatic ecology are conducted by the aquatic preserve throughout the year. Over 500 students from area schools were given educational presentations on wildlife ecology during field trips by aquatic preserve staff.
The Ocklawaha and Silver rivers can be enjoyed by canoeists and kayakers; surrounding areas provide opportunities for hiking and primitive camping. The Ocala National Forest borders the river before it turns and flows to the St. Johns River.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.