Audubon Florida News

Kissimmee River Restoration Adventure with the Everglades Coalition

posted on August 8, 2014 in Birding,Everglades,North Everglades,Water Issues

Kissimmee EvCo tourWhere can you see Swallow tailed Kites, numerous Everglade Snail Kites, Limpkins, Wild Turkeys, and one Roseate Spoonbill within hours on the last day of July? Try the newly restored section of the Kissimmee River.

Last week, Audubon enjoyed partnering with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to tour the Kissimmee River Restoration Project with over thirty of our environmental allies at the annual Everglades Coalition Retreat. The Everglades Coalition  is comprised of over 50 environmental organizations, including many of our closest friends in the conservation community. It was a great opportunity to get out with friends to see the magic of this restoration project.

Kissimmee Avon kiteKissimmee River Restoration started in 1992. It is now over 90% complete. In the 1960’s, the Kissimmee River was channelized into a large canal for flood control. This huge canal drained the water from miles of important habitat for birds and other wildlife. The Kissimmee River restoration project reestablishes miles of the natural winding Kissimmee River, and restores miles of wetlands and floodplains in the Northern Everglades. Already, populations of birds are higher than what was even projected for post restoration.

And, the project is not even operating at full capacity yet. Once it is complete and operating in a few years, the results should be stunning.

Audubon’s Dr. Paul Gray and SFWMD’s David Colangelo showed us areas of the restored river and floodplain. The winding oxbows of the restored rivers were vibrant with paul kissimmeevegetation.

Endangered Everglade Snail Kites and Swallow-tailed Kites were all around.

We could hear the cackles and laughter of Limpkins just yards away in Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park.

Many thanks go to Everglades Coalition co-chairs Cara Capp of National Parks Conservation Association and Jason Totoui of Everglades Law Center for making this trip happen! It was refreshing to get out and enjoy this special place together.




  1. 1. Why not put the SS back into the rest of Kissimmee?
    2. On five trips rom Riverwood to the restored parts of the Kissimmee the plant diversity recovery was wonderful but we saw much higher animals diversity and abundance in the small canals between Riverwood and the river. With some cows along the canals perhaps the nutrient levels were higher than along the restored sections.
    3. Despite relatively low plant diversity the restoration of floodplain “sponge” should have great positive effects. Do we have hydrograph history to show that the river is getting more predictable seasonally with higher lows and lower high with less flashy hydro-patterns?

    Comment by Dr. Tom Poulson — August 8, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

  2. Good to hear from you Dr. Tom! We can’t get the right hydrology to the River until the “Headwaters” project is done and allows us to let Lake Kissimmee rise another 1.5 feet in the summer (~2017). That extra water will be used to keep the floodplain wet during the dry season. The great plant and animal responses we’ve seen to far have been from a interim, sub-par hydrology, and the best is yet to come. We are working on the nutrient issues too, our latest fact sheet is at

    Comment by Paul Gray — August 11, 2014 @ 2:11 pm

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