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The Upper Peace River/Saddle Creek Restoration Project

The Peace River begins near Interstate 4, midway between Tampa and Orlando, where waters of the Green Swamp join waters of Saddle Creek. The river extends over 100 miles, opening out into the Charlotte Harbor and then the Gulf of Mexico, serving as a critical environmental connection to numerous isolated habitats along its route. The Peace River watershed drains an area of approximately 2,350 square miles, providing a major source of fresh water for agriculture, industry and municipalities, and playing a vital role in the productivity of the estuarine waters of Charlotte Harbor.

The Saddle Creek portion of the river was heavily impacted by phosphate mining that took place before the start of mining reclamation laws in 1975. The goal of the Upper Peace River/Saddle Creek Restoration project was to improve hydrology and ecology of a large portion of the Saddle Creek basin.

The project, directed by DEP’s Mining and Mitigation program and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), took place at the 8,300-acre Tenoroc Fish Management Area. Over a decade of planning between multiple state and federal agencies, the public, and consulting scientists and engineers led to the design and creation of three wetland restoration projects, all completed by 2012. 

Newly built marshes and wetland forests were connected to existing pit lakes. Over 115,000 trees and 1.3 million plants and shrubs were planted throughout the 2,000-acre project footprint. The result is a higher quantity of clean water flowing into Saddle Creek, expanded public recreational opportunities and immediate use by wildlife.

The project was paid for through a variety of sources including Florida Department of Transportation mitigation funds, FWC’s Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Enhancement funds, and monies from DEP’s Nonmandatory Land Reclamation Trust Fund. For more information regarding the project, see the Upper Peace River/Saddle Creek Restoration Project summary. FWC and DEP continue to cooperatively maintain these project areas for wildlife, public recreational use, and the sustained health of the Peace River.

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Last Modified:
March 15, 2018 - 2:37pm

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