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KISSIMMEE RIVER

In the 1960s, the 100-mile meandering Kissimmee River was dredged and straightened into a 40-mile long, 300-foot deep canal called the C-38in order to provide flood control.  This canal destroyed the river’s ecology and floodplain wetlands.  The canal also contributed to the degradation of Lake Okeechobee water quality.  Authorized in 1992, the Kissimmee River Restoration project will restore 40 miles of the meandering Kissimmee River, 40 square miles of floodplain, and more than 12,000 acres of wetlands.  Thus far, two phases of restoration are complete, restoring 19 miles of the meandering Kissimmee River (including multiple sand bars) and more than 20 square miles of floodplain.  Only half-complete, the project is showing dramatic improvement in river channel restoration, water quality and river floodplain conditions.  These improved habitat conditions have also translated to dramatic increases in waterfowl, wading birds, and fish populations.  This project has also provided water managers with increased water storage capacity during periods of heavy rainfall, which helps to manage water levels and water quality conditions downstream in Lake Okeechobee.