JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 10, 2011) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District and its partner, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), will hold a groundbreaking celebration for the Picayune Strand Restoration Project on Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. at the project site in eastern Collier County. The public is invited to attend and commemorate this important environmental restoration project, which benefits Collier County and many other areas of southwest Florida.
The Corps is celebrating the project’s second federal construction contract. This past November, the Corps awarded Harry Pepper and Associates of Jacksonville a $79 million contract for the Faka Union Canal Pump Station. Components include constructing the pump station, continuing to fill in the canal, and removing 100 miles of roadway. Work will begin in February and will last about three years. In 2009, the Corps awarded Pepper a similar contract for $59 million for the Merritt Canal Pump Station. This contract is well under way.
The Picayune Strand Restoration Project will transform a failed housing development into pristine habitat for the endangered Florida panther and other native animals and plants. It will restore the overland hydrology, reducing invasion of non-native plants and opening up room for more native species. The project will also improve downstream coastal estuaries and aquifer recharge, among its many benefits.
This region is considered an environmental jewel. The project area is nearly surrounded by public lands including the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Collier-Seminole State Park and the Picayune Strand State Forest.
The celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and will feature a number of federal, state and local speakers. A one-hour bus tour of the project site will take place shortly after the ceremony. The tour is limited to the first 60 people who RSVP online or by phone.
An RSVP is required for both the celebration and optional tour by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7. To RSVP, call 561-472-8885 or visit www.evergladesrestoration.net/faka_union_evite/index.php. Directions to the site are also available on this web page.
The Picayune Strand Restoration Project is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. For more information, visit www.evergladesplan.org, click “Projects & Studies” on the upper right, and scroll down to the Picayune Strand project page.