In the 1940’s, two brothers from Baltimore formed a company to sell swampland for development in eastern Collier County called the Southern Golden Gates Estates. Buyers from across the United States and around the world traveled to Southwest Florida where they toured Cape Coral and bought land they never placed eyes on.
Roads were built and canals were dug, adversely impacting the natural habitats of eastern Collier County.
When the development company went bankrupt in 1978, the state of Florida, along with organizations like the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, began contacting property owners in the hopes of buying them out. Once this tedious process successfully concluded, a plan was devised to restore Picayune Strand.
The Picayune Strand project was included in the 2000 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP).
This habitat restoration project will restore wetland conditions throughout the footprint of the Southern Golden Gate Estates, which drained more than 55,000 acres of wetland forest with 4 major canals and 279 miles of roads.
Picayune Strand is located in eastern Collier County between Tamiami Trail (US-41) and Interstate-75 (Alligator Alley). Restoration activities in Picayune Strand began in 2007, and the project is nearing completion.
WHY DO WE NEED
Backfilled canals create new wetlands and deep water habitat for a variety of animal species. This has also improved wetland conditions and habitat quality for a variety of plant and animal species, including the endangered Florida Panther, black bear and bald eagle.
In addition, the Picayune Strand project will restore the quantity and quality of flows to downstream coastal wetlands and estuaries of the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
WHY DO WE NEED
The reservoir is part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, a joint endeavor by the federal government and the State of Florida. The state, which owns the land, has spent $290 million constructing the STA, while the federal government will construct the reservoir at an estimated cost of $3 billion. Continued funding is critical.
The State of Florida estimates that it will complete the STA in late 2023. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to complete construction of the reservoir by 2029.
THE CROWN JEWEL OF
The EAA Reservoir has been called “the crown jewel of Everglades restoration,” as it is the most important project to store, clean, and send water south from Lake Okeechobee into the Everglades.
Restoring the Everglades is vital to all Floridians, as our state depends on robust tourism and real estate industries.