Audubon Florida News

Breaking Ground on the C-111 Spreader Canal Opens the Door for Increasing Freshwater Flows and Restoring Wildlife Abundance in Florida Bay

jerry takes on the C-111
Audubon of Florida State Director of Research Dr. Jerry Lorenz celebrates progress to restore Florida Bay at the groundbreaking of the first phase of the C-111 project to reduce over drainage of the wetlands by the massive canal.

Audubon scientists and policy advocates attended the groundbreaking for the first phase of the C-111 spreader canal restoration project on Tuesday, January 26 and applauded the progress to bring back the freshwater flows so important to recover the historic productivity of aquatic species, wading birds and wildlife in Florida Bay.

Years of Audubon scientific study and advocacy demonstrate the need to increase freshwater flows through the southern Everglades to Florida Bay and making on-the-ground progress on the Western component of the C-111 Spreader Canal project is key to advancing this goal.

Great colonies of wading birds once congregated on the shores of Florida Bay. The measurement of restoration success is bringing those colonies back. Increasing freshwater flows to Taylor Slough will restore habitat and the birds will respond to increased flows by building nests and hatching chicks.

The successful completion and operation of the first phase of this restoration project will create a hydraulic ridge and push water back toward Taylor Slough, the intended freshwater entry point to Florida Bay. These wetlands have long suffered from too little freshwater, and thus, decreased productivity of prey species that support wading bird populations.

Located at the southern end of the greater Everglades ecosystem, Florida Bay has received far too little fresh water for too long. What little water makes it to the southern Everglades is diverted toward the massive C-111 canal.  As a result, the productivity of foraging grounds for wading birds such as roseate spoonbills is greatly reduced and the species has experienced significant population declines in Florida Bay. True restoration requires bringing the quantities of clean, freshwater back and we must work toward that goal while celebrating this success.

The first phase of this project is a critical piece of the suite of projects needed to improve freshwater deliveries to the southern end of the Everglades ecosystem.  To achieve full restoration of the southern Everglades and Florida Bay, the delivery of more freshwater through the Water Conservation Areas and past the Tamiami Trail is essential.  This requires not only the ability to move existing freshwater south by implementing restoration projects, but to treat and convey additional freshwater to the southern Everglades, which will be made possible by the River of Grass land acquisition.

There is still much to do to make sure this project is operated to achieve ecological benefits including thriving wildlife populations and to demonstrate that successful restoration of the Everglades is possible. And Audubon will continue to apply its research and science-based advocacy to ensure that this project and others restore the ecological productivity of the ecosystem and bring back the wading birds.

Read more about the C-111 Project.

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