JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jacksonville District is notifying Kissimmee River boaters of navigational restrictions along approximately ten miles of the river in the lower river basin.
The Corps continues backfilling the channelized Kissimmee River segments to allow flows through the historic river channel and restore its floodplain and habitat.
Restoration construction will limit navigation, restricting it from U.S. Highway 98 to approximately 7 miles upstream and 3 miles downstream of U.S. Highway 98 (see below map). Navigation will remain open both upstream and downstream of the construction areas.
“We hope the public will continue enjoying the river and canals, and also continue to exercise extra caution in the waterways, particularly when approaching segments that are and will be closed for construction purposes,” said Dr. Orlando Ramos-Gines, senior project manager. “We applaud the local communities for their continued cooperation in helping us to complete this huge undertaking in a safe manner.”
Boaters can access upstream and downstream segments outside the construction area via existing boat ramps located in nearby segments without navigational restrictions. For boat ramp locations, boaters can access the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission website at https://public.myfwc.com/LE/boatramp/public/CountyMap.aspx.
The Corps anticipates completing construction activities in the summer of 2020. Corps’ contractors will remove all navigation barriers at that time, if not sooner, and navigation will resume using the historic Kissimmee River.
The Kissimmee River restoration project is one of the many ongoing projects currently underway by the Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District, to restore America’s Everglades. Once completed, the Kissimmee River Restoration project will restore the 22-mile channelized river back to its natural meandering pattern and provide 130,000 acre-feet of natural floodplain storage. This will slow the flow of water from the Kissimmee Basin into Lake Okeechobee, thereby slowing down the rise in the lake that often results in high-volume discharges to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.
“When restoration is completed in 2020, 32 miles of canal will be backfilled, more than 40 square miles of river-floodplain ecosystem restored, almost 12,400 acres of wetlands restored, and 40 miles of historic river channel.,” Ramos-Gines said. In areas already restored, he said, comprehensive monitoring has documented substantial improvements in the river and its floodplain, making the project a model for large-scale ecosystem restoration efforts.
For more information about the Kissimmee River Restoration Project, please visit the project webpage at https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Kissimmee-River-Restoration/.