The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, said in its latest project update that, to date, continuous flow has been restored to 28 miles of the Kissimmee River.
In areas already restored, comprehensive monitoring has documented substantial improvements in the river and its floodplain, making the project a model for large-scale ecosystem restoration efforts.
“Through our partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we are restoring the river and protecting it for the enjoyment of generations of Floridians to come,” said South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board Chairman Dan O’Keefe.
The Kissimmee River Restoration Project was first devised in 1976 after channelization of the naturally curving river for flood protection had the unintended consequence of eliminating crucial floodplain wetlands and degrading the ecosystem along the river.
The SFWMD Governing Board and the Corps entered an equal cost-sharing partnership in 1994 to backfill 22 miles of the C-38 Canal and reconnect 44 miles of river channel to mimic historic flows.
When restoration is completed in 2020, more than 40 square miles of river-floodplain ecosystem will be restored, including almost 20,000 acres of wetlands and 44 miles of historic river channel, USACE said.