The South Florida National Parks Trust has approved $44,000 in new grants for Big Cypress National Preserve including $35,000 for the final phase of a restoration project that will improve the flow of fresh water in the Turner River, one of the most popular and scenic paddling spots in Big Cypress, the organization announced this week.
The restoration project, known as the Ochopee Sheet Flow Restoration Plan, will deliver hydrological benefits across a broad expanse of Big Cypress wetlands – 20 square miles in total – through the strategic placement of canal plugs, the installation of underground culverts and the removal of a mile-long levee.
The regional project, begun in 2013 with support from Collier County, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the SFNPT, will be completed in 2016 as part of the centennial celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
With the approval of its most recent grant, the SFNPT has committed $95,000 over three years to support the restoration of the Turner River and surrounding wetlands.
The SFNPT is supporting the Big Cypress Swamp Heritage Festival as well this year with a grant of $8,900 for the annual celebration of swamp history and culture. The program for 5th annual festival on Saturday December 5 includes appearances by two of South Florida’s most distinctive voices – author Carl Hiaasen and photographer Clyde Butcher. For details, visit http://www.nps.gov/bicy/planyourvisit/swampheritagefestival.htm
In addition to these two grants, the SFNPT has committed $46,000 this year to support outdoor science education programs in Big Cypress through a generous grant from the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), founders of the Naples Winter Wine Festival. An estimated 3,000 school children will explore the preserve this season on curriculum-based field trips supported by the SFNPT and NCEF.
The South Florida National Parks Trust is the official nonprofit partner of Big Cypress National Preserve and three other national parks in South Florida.