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USACE Celebrates Completion of Construction for the Kissimmee River Restoration Project

USACE celebrated the completion of construction on the Kissimmee River Restoration Project at a ribbon cutting ceremony at Riverwoods Field Laboratory in Lorida, Florida.
USACE celebrated the completion of construction on the Kissimmee River Restoration Project at a ribbon cutting ceremony at Riverwoods Field Laboratory in Lorida, Florida.
LORIDA, FL — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District (USACE) recently hosted a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate the completion of the construction for the Kissimmee River Restoration Project. The Kissimmee River Restoration Project restores more than 40 square miles of the river floodplain ecosystem, 20,000 acres of wetlands, and 44 miles of the historic river channel.

This major restoration effort is a 50-50 partnership between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). Over the past 22 years, the USACE and SFWMD worked together to:

Complete backfilling of 22 miles of the C-38 canal between Lakes Kissimmee and Okeechobee
Reconstruct remnant river channels across the backfilled canal to reconnect and restore flow in remnant river channels
Remove two water control structures
Add two gates to the S-65 water control structure
Acquire more than 100,000 acres of land to restore the river and floodplain

“The Kissimmee River Restoration Project was the first successful large-scale active riverine ecosystem restoration project in the country, and even in the world,” said Col. Andrew Kelly, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Commander. “All eyes were on us. The world watched as we set the standard and created the model for science-based ecosystem restoration projects worldwide. The Kissimmee River Restoration is proof positive that if we build it right, they will come, and serves as the foundation for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. Today, we celebrate the completion of the construction phase with many of the people who have worked hard to maintain the momentum on this project for more than 30 years. We owe all of our partners a huge debt of gratitude for their continued support.”

The historic Kissimmee River once meandered for 103 miles through central Florida. Its floodplain, reaching up to two miles wide, was inundated for long periods by heavy seasonal rains. Recurring and prolonged flooding impacted local residents and resulted in Congressional authorization of the Central and Southern Florida Project, which included channelizing the Kissimmee River and floodplain. Construction of the C-38 canal achieved flood reduction benefits, but it also harmed the river-floodplain ecosystem. The decline of the ecosystem spurred federal, state, and local partnerships to embark on one of the world’s largest riverine restoration efforts: the Kissimmee River Restoration Project.

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Since the project began in 1999, the river and its floodplain improved in many ways, including the conversion of nearly 20,000 acres of drained floodplain to ecologically beneficial wetlands. In addition, the project’s efforts resulted in the recovery of the invertebrate community, a crucial food resource for fish and birds. Crews have completed the project's construction activities. Additional monitoring will be conducted to measure the project’s success, and additional projects and restoration efforts in the region will support continued restoration of Florida’s Kissimmee River.

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