Kissimmee River Restoration Project

View of part of the Kissimmee River and the backfilled canalThe Kissimmee River Restoration project, authorized by Congress in 1992, is sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). When the project is completed in 2020, more than 40 square miles of river-floodplain ecosystem will be restored, including nearly 20,000 acres of wetlands and 44 miles of historic river channel.


The 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. Wetland plants, wading birds and fish thrived there.

Because prolonged flooding caused severe impacts to human habitation, Florida officials asked Congress for assistance. Congress tasked the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and, between 1962 and 1971, the Corps cut and dredged the Kissimmee River into a 30-foot deep straightaway called the C-38 canal. The project achieved flood reduction benefits, but it also harmed the river-floodplain ecosystem.

After extensive planning, construction for environmental restoration began in 1999. The project is now more than halfway complete. In the lower Kissimmee River Basin, Phase1 construction was completed in 2001 and Phase 4 was completed in 2010, restoring continuous water flows to approximately 19 of 44 miles of the Kissimmee River. Phases 2 and 3 are now underway and includes backfilling the C-38 canal, and restoring flow to 9 miles of the river. Approximately 99 percent of lands needed to complete Kissimmee River Restoration have been acquired — a total of 102,061 acres. More than 15 of 22 miles of canal have been backfilled and 6,500 acres of floodplain wetlands have been restored. The response of the natural system has greatly exceeded expectations. Many species of ducks and wading birds—including the ring-necked duck, American avocet, and black-necked stilt—are now present. These species were not present during pre-construction surveys.

Additional information is available on the Kissimmee River Restoration Project fact sheet and placemat .


Info & Meetings


Corps announces additional changes to navigation on Kissimmee River - December 16, 2019

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District is implementing additional navigation restrictions for boaters along roughly 10 miles of the lower Kissimmee River basin. 

The Corps continues backfilling operations on the C-38 Canal as part of an ongoing effort to restore historic flows of the Kissimmee River.  Earlier this summer, the Corps closed a portion of the canal seven miles upstream to three miles downstream of the U.S. Highway 98 bridge located near Basinger approximately 20 miles northwest of Okeechobee.  Now the Corps is advising boaters that the historic oxbows in the vicinity are also closed to navigation.

“We urge boaters to use caution near the construction area,” said Dr. Orlando Ramos-Gines, senior project manager for the Jacksonville District.  “We thank the public for their continued support and hope they will continue enjoying the river and canals, but boaters also need to know what areas are closed so everyone remains safe.”

Barriers have been installed at the closed segments of the river.  Boaters can access upstream and downstream segments using boat ramps outside the restricted area.  The Corps anticipates completing construction in the next 12 months and will reopen the oxbows at that time.

The Kissimmee River restoration project is one of many under construction by the Corps in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District. Once completed, the Kissimmee River Restoration project will restore the portions of the 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.

View the news release (w/map of closures)


Corps continues construction on Kissimmee River Restoration Project; Navigation closures remain in effect - February 13, 2017

As the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District continues to work towards bringing the Kissimmee River Restoration project to completion, navigation closures will remain in effect to accommodate ongoing construction activities. 

Navigational closures are currently in effect on the Kissimmee River north of the U.S. Highway 98 Bridge for 6.5 miles.  To access the river south of construction activities, boaters are advised to use the S-65D Boat Ramp.  To access the river north of construction activities, boaters are advised to use the Arbuckle Creek / Avon Park Range Boat Ramp.  

SFWMD is lowering water levels between the S-65A and S-65C structures on the Kissimmee River to accommodate construction activities.  As such, river access using the Istokpoga Boat Ramp is currently closed for outboard motor boats. 


Corps awards contract for Kissimmee River Restoration Project; Navigation closures scheduled to begin this fall - August 5, 2016


Backfilling work begins for Kissimmee River Restoration Project; Navigation will be interrupted on part of C-38 Canal - March 2, 2016


Construction contract awarded for Reach 3 Backfill and Bass Embankment Degrade - Sept. 28, 2015


Construction contract awarded for MacArthur Ditch Backfill - Jan. 15, 2015


Points of Contact

Corps Project Manager

Project Manager
South Florida Water Management District