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Hydrologic Restoration at North Fork St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve Quick Topics

Restoration of historical water movement patterns through oxbows and floodplains is expected to improve water quality and reduce the amount of muck deposited in the lower portion of the preserve. Original, unaltered riverbends generally contain more submergent and emergent vegetation near the shoreline and appear to attract more native fauna than channelized areas.

Hydrologic restoration of the North Fork began in June 2002 when preserve staff reestablished flow to an isolated portion of the North Fork floodplain approximately one half mile north of Prima Vista Boulevard. This site (Site 5) is an island that was created during the straightening process. Restoration efforts included construction of three breaches in the spoil berm lining the bank of the river (one culvert and two creek-like systems). Biological monitoring of the site for three years post-construction indicates successful use of the reconnected wetlands by fish and invertebrates. The culvert at Site 5 has also been documented to effectively move water into the floodplain wetland.

Water quality parameters (turbidity and dissolved oxygen) were monitored pre- and post-construction at the three Site 5 breaches and the oxbow reconnection site. Water quality monitoring data at the Site 5 breaches indicated that elevated turbidity levels associated with construction activities were reduced to background (river) levels within weeks of construction. Data also suggest significant post-construction improvements in dissolved oxygen levels within the restored wetlands and oxbow.

Map of restoration sites

Completed Hydrologic Restoration Projects at North Fork St. Lucie Aquatic Preserve

A second pilot hydrologic restoration project, the reconnection of an oxbow on South Florida Water Management Districtís Strazulla Tract located just south of Plattís Creek, was completed in July 2003. Although north of the preserve boundary at Midway Road, reconnection of this historic riverbend to the North Fork is expected to improve the quality of water reaching the preserve. Biological sampling at the reconnection site indicates movement of fish and invertebrates into the oxbow.

Information gained during the completion of both restoration projects will facilitate future project development. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, state park biologists and the St. Lucie County Mosquito Control District are partnering to reconnect a second oxbow along the north side of Ten Mile Creek on the North Fork parcel (Miller-Wild property) of Savannas Preserve State Park in fiscal year 2009-2010.

A dredge reconnects an oxbow

Reconnecting isolated oxbows will improve water quality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: September 24, 2010

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