Audubon staff travel across South Florida to represent birds and the places they need as Everglades restoration initiatives come online. In May alone, we were on hand for both a groundbreaking and a ribbon cutting, representing the start and end of two important restoration projects. Audubon has studied and advocated for the Everglades for 123 years, and we are thrilled to see decades of planning and advocacy come to fruition.
MORE WATER FLOWS THROUGH TAYLOR SLOUGH INTO FLORIDA BAY
We celebrated the ribbon cutting for the Taylor Slough Improvement Project just four months after standing in the same spot with shovels to kickstart the initiative’s groundbreaking. To see a step forward in Everglades restoration go from start to finish in record time is a testament to the collaboration among many partners that has been cultivated over the years to restore America’s Everglades. Located within Everglades National Park, the improvement project was completed so quickly thanks to both the South Florida Water Management District team and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Taylor Slough Flow Improvement Project will restore freshwater flows to Florida Bay. Located on the east side of the southern Everglades, Taylor Slough is one of two major freshwater sloughs in Everglades National Park. Due to both the infrastructure of the Central and Southern Florida System and the construction of Old Ingraham Highway, the latter of which inadvertently acted as a dam, water flow to Taylor Slough was cut off significantly. The project restores water connectivity through the installation of 18 culverts in nine different locations along Ingraham Highway and plugs several canals that had diverted water from the slough. These steps will redirect fresh water to its rightful path while also restoring natural plant communities in the area.
At Audubon, we have protected iconic bird species while studying the health of the Everglades—especially Taylor Slough—for almost 100 years. Jerry Lorenz, PhD, State Research Director, has been the scientific force behind this work for more than three decades. Because of our longstanding history here on Florida Bay, we know that the additional connectivity into Taylor Slough from this project will improve water conditions in this area and support habitat and wildlife. We look forward to continuing to monitor Taylor Slough and sharing the results of this project as the benefits are realized.
CENTRAL EVERGLADES PLANNING PROJECT – NORTH PHASE
The South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corps of Engineers hosted a celebratory groundbreaking for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) North Phase component. This initiative improves clean water flows and enhances the timing and distribution of water to the central Everglades and the Water Conservation Areas. It will also transport more water south to the Everglades and Florida Bay while replenishing our aquifers in South Florida. All four phases of CEPP are now under construction—an exciting milestone! CEPP North will be composed of seven structures, including a canal, as well as improvements to 18 miles of canals currently in operation. Audubon staff attended the event, which took place on the border between Broward and Palm Beach counties.
This article appeared in the Summer 2023 Naturalist. Read the full magazine here.