Projects: Florida

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Central Everglades Project

  • State: Florida
  • Type: Hydrologic Restoration
  • Estuary: Everglades
  • Land Benefit: 10,000 acres

The Central Everglades Project, authorized by Congress in 2016, is a bundle of high-impact project components aimed to improve the delivery of water to the central Everglades ecosystem. It includes elements to store, treat, and convey water south of Lake Okeechobee, and components to remove barriers to the sheetflow of water between the Water Conservation Areas and Everglades National Park. CEP will work synergistically with the EAA Reservoir and the Tamiami Trail Bridging to de-compartmentalize the Everglades and send water south. When completed, CEP will restore the natural sheetflow to 10,000 acres of degraded Everglades’ wetlands and improve the health of Florida Bay.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Florida Bay, known universally among those who love to fish there as “the backcountry,” stretches from the southernmost tip of the mainland, south to the Florida Keys. Hundreds of mangrove islands dot the bay, and are ringed by shallow flats that make a perfect home for snook, redfish, spotted seatrout and lots more.

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St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Land Acquisition

  • State: Florida
  • Type: Habitat Protection
  • Estuary: Apalachicola Bay
  • Land Benefit: 20,000 acres

This project provides habitat conservation through land acquisition and permanent conservation easements via expansion of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The project will enhance water quality, improve community resilience, protect coastal marine resources, and provide tremendous benefit to migratory bird species. The targeted tracts include wetland habitats that provide direct benefits to Apalachee Bay, St. Marks River, and the Gulf of Mexico. Two tracts, the Sam Shine tract (8,117 acres) and The Nature Conservancy Tract (7,699 acres) comprise the vast majority of this project. In addition, the 2,228-acre Lower Ochlockonee River Tract would provide protection to the local estuary, and two other easement parcels (totaling approximately 2,100 acres), would greatly aid the St. Marks River. This project will buffer Apalachee Bay, a high salinity, seagrass rich aquatic area which is an important corridor to the low salinity, phytoplankton rich area of nearby Apalachicola Bay.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Apalachee Bay is also renowned as one of the cleanest and most ecologically abundant bays left in Florida. St. Marks NWR provides opportunities for both fresh and saltwater fishing. In addition to many lakes, ponds, creeks and rivers, the refuge has two boat launching sites for access to Apalachicola Bay. In addition, the refuge holds several organized hunts on portions of the refuge, including a special youth hunt.

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Pensacola East Bay Living Shorelines & Oyster Reef Restoration

  • State: Florida
  • Type: Living Shoreline/Oyster Restoration
  • Estuary: Pensacola Bay
  • Land Benefit: 6.5 shoreline miles

This project will create up to 6.5 miles of living shorelines in the East Bay area of Pensacola Bay. The project will include installation of materials to provide structure suitable for development of oyster reef habitat and will serve as a natural approach to controlling shoreline erosion. The project will apply the most appropriate substrate for oyster larvae to settle and colonize, restoring critical oyster habitat. The deployment of oyster habitat (which serves as a breakwater) and the planting of salt marsh vegetation will protect the shoreline by dampening wave energy (which erodes the shoreline) and stabilizing sediments (which cause turbidity). These improvements will promote the growth of seagrass and increase colonization by oysters.

Fish and Waterfowl Benefits

Living shorelines created by this project will ultimately provide nursery habitat for commercially and recreationally important finfish and shellfish, as well as forage and nesting areas for birds.

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