Where 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 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 vegetation.
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.