Jacksonville, Fla. – State and Federal officials paid honor to a former
retired secretary, grandmother and native New Yorker for her many quality of
life accomplishments today. In the 1980s, the late Fran Reich led local Florida
residents to fight – and win – against building a landfill adjacent to one of
Florida’s natural wonders, the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife
Refuge in Palm Beach County.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District and its partners
hosted Fran’s family during a groundbreaking celebration at that exact location.
The Corps is constructing the Site 1 Impoundment Project on lands now designated
as the Fran Reich Preserve to provide water storage considered essential to
restoring the Everglades’ historic health and viability.
“Make no mistake! People matter! It’s absolutely amazing what Fran Reich
spurred for the future of this unique ecosystem and restoration in general in
Florida,” said Jacksonville District Commander Al Pantano. “This project will
increase much needed water storage capacity and water management flexibility in
the area. The work itself will benefit many people, and improve the quality of
life for Palm Beach County residents, businesses and area visitors,” he added.
More than 100 people attended the special event, including U.S.
Representative Ted Deutch, U.S. Representative Ron Klein, Ronna Reich Schwartz
from Westport, Conn. and Sheara Reich from Washington, D.C., granddaughters of
Fran Reich, Mimi Drew, Secretary, Florida Department of Environmental
Protection; Jo Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; Tom
Strickland, Department of the Interior's Assistant Secretary for Fish and
Wildlife and Parks; Eric Buermann, Chairman, Board of Directors, South Florida
Water Management District and Burt Aaronson, Commissioner, District 5, among
“Our grandmother, Fran Reich, once said, ‘On the other hand, I stop to think
about what would happen if we weren’t here. I believe in what we’re doing. I
believe strongly in what we’re doing,’” said Sheara Reich.
“For her (Fran Reich) it was more about the greater good -- what's good for
the community and especially what's good for children and future generations --
than her own personal passions. That's what made her such an amazing person and
I also think that's part of why she was so successful,” added Sheara Reich.
“Because she was here, something meaningful to generations to come is taking
place here today,” added Ronna Reich Schwartz, “and we are glad we can be a part
“The Site-1 project reduces urban water demands on Loxahatchee National
Wildlife Refuge and leaves more fresh water in the Everglades where it is needed
most," said Tom Strickland, the Department of the Interior's Assistant Secretary
for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. "Today’s ground-breaking represents the
Administration’s strong commitment for Everglades restoration and underscores
the progress we are making everyday to restore this world class natural
The Corps awarded a $44 million contract in August for phase one construction
of the project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Corps
anticipates the completion of the first phase in the fall 2012, and awarding
phase two in fall 2012.
“Forward progress in Everglades restoration continues today with the start of
construction on the Site 1 Impoundment,” said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman
Eric Buermann. “This project on the edge of the historic Everglades illustrates
the ongoing commitment of the District and our federal partners to protecting
and restoring a national treasure.”
A component of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the 1,800-acre
project is located along the Hillsboro Canal, south and east of the Loxahatchee
National Wildlife Refuge. The Corps’ local sponsor, the South Florida Water
Management District, acquired the lands.
The impoundment will capture and store excess water currently discharged to
the Hillsboro Canal. Water managers will use the stored water when availability
is low in the dry season. The project will also reduce wasteful discharges to
the Intracoastal Waterway, as well as water supply demands on Lake Okeechobee
and the Loxahatchee refuge. The impounded water will decrease the loss of water
from the Loxahatchee refuge caused by naturally occurring seepage. Other
potential benefits include flood mitigation, water quality improvements and
reduced saltwater intrusion.
Phase one of the project includes modifications to the existing L-40 levee
and construction of a 5.5-acre wildlife wetland area. Construction activities
also include demolition, installation of a temporary access bridge, vegetation
clearing and grubbing, dewatering operations, borrow and disposal area
operations, excavation and fill placement, construction of an armored spillway,
placement of erosion control measures that include soil cement and reinforced
grass, and installation of embankment instrumentation. Once built, the Corps
will turn operations and management of the site over to the SFWMD.
For more information on the Site 1 Impoundment Project, please visit
www.Evergladesplan.org and click on the link to Projects and Studies. To view
the video news release on the project and the interviews with stakeholders and
family members visit