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April 5, 2006

The Southwest Florida Water Management District has begun construction on four projects to restore natural systems and improve the water quality at the Charlotte Harbor Buffer Preserve.

The Charlotte Harbor Buffer Preserve has been significantly impacted by human activities, such as construction of miles of mosquito ditches and berms, which have altered historic wetland hydroperiods and flow patterns into Charlotte Harbor.

The projects will fill mosquito ditches to restore natural overland flow patterns, re-hydrate drained wetlands, remove invasive vegetation and restore salinity gradients in designated areas to improve nursery habitats for juvenile fish.

“We are expecting the habitat restoration to improve the water quality and provide a better environment for the fisheries of Charlotte Harbor,” said Paul Miselis, project manager at the District. “The saltwater areas are critical to early life stages of many commercially important fish species.”

The project’s construction costs total approximately $1,000,750. The construction is cooperatively funded by the District’s Peace River Basin, State Surface Water Improvement and Management program, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coastal Impact Assistance Program and state appropriations.

The Charlotte Harbor Buffer Preserve projects are part of the Alligator Creek Wetlands Restoration Project, a major restoration effort of a 1,600 acre-site that began in December 2000. The Charlotte Harbor Buffer Preserve project area, which covers approximately 677 acres, is located south of Punta Gorda and west of Burnt Store Road in Charlotte County.

The anticipated completion date of this phase of the Charlotte Harbor Buffer Preserve projects is late 2007.

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