SFWMD OKs Kissimmee River management plan

To sustain the progress being made in restoring the Kissimmee River and its environmentally vital floodplain, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board approved an updated five-year management plan for the 56,713 acres of public lands along the river. The management plan describes the historical, physical, and ecological aspects of the Kissimmee River Management Areas as well as stewardship activities needed to properly manage these lands...

Mar 24th, 2008

• Adds 3,700 acres to Public Use Area; Management plan will guide environmental restoration and maintenance of public lands adjacent to the river

WEST PALM BEACH, FL, March 17, 2008 -- To sustain the progress being made in restoring the Kissimmee River and its environmentally vital floodplain, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board approved an updated five-year management plan for the 56,713 acres of public lands along the river.

The management plan describes the historical, physical, and ecological aspects of the Kissimmee River Management Areas as well as stewardship activities needed to properly manage these lands, which were acquired for the restoration effort. The plan provides guidance to District land managers on effective and consistent land management practices as well as specific goals and objectives.

"The Kissimmee River Restoration is restoration in the purest sense," said Harkley Thornton, SFWMD Governing Board member. "We want the ecosystem to function as it did long before any of us arrived in Florida."

The presence of invasive plants and animals as well as safety precautions necessary for controlling lightning-sparked fires requires planning on how to mimic natural processes. District land managers rely on the management plan for ways to achieve this. The 141-page document is available to the public via the SFWMD website at www.sfwmd.gov.

In a related effort, the SFWMD Governing Board also passed a resolution requesting coordination with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to add the 3,722-acre Chandler Slough to the Kissimmee River Public Use Area. This will create specific public recreation opportunities in Chandler Slough and define the rules and regulations governing hunting, camping, hiking and other public activities encouraged on this land purchased for Kissimmee River Restoration. Chandler Slough is located east of the channelized Kissimmee River (C-38) and south of U.S. Highway 98.

Kissimmee River Restoration is an ongoing effort to restore an estimated 40 square miles of river and floodplain ecosystem at the headwaters of America's Everglades. All lands have been acquired for the multi-phase project, which will restore 26,500 acres of wetlands and 43 continuous miles of meandering river. Restored habitats along the Kissimmee now support hundreds of species of native plants, fish, invertebrates and birds, including the endangered bald eagle, snail kite and wood stork.

The South Florida Water Management District is a regional, governmental agency that oversees the water resources in the southern half of the state -- 16 counties from Orlando to the Keys. It is the oldest and largest of the state's five water management districts.

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