The effort to designate the Kissimmee River as one of America’s wild and scenic rivers has advanced in Congress, thanks to the efforts of Rep; Scott Franklin, R-Lakeland, and Rep. Darren Soto. D-Orlando to gain approval of this measure in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The river, whose restoration was the largest project of its size in American history, drains a basin of more than 100 miles of creeks and thousands of square miles of land at the headwaters of a much larger system that flows to the Everglades.
The Everglades, which was described in Marjorie Stoneman Douglas’ classic 1947 “Everglades River of Grass” as a unique feature of America’s landscape, needs all of the protection and management it can obtain because of decades of ill-advised drainage of the southern area of Florida’s peninsula to serve agricultural and development interests.
The Kissimmee River was once a meandering stream that flowed for more than 100 miles through Florida’s Heartland until a misbegotten engineering scheme to reduce flooding in an area where flooding is a natural occurrence turned a wild river into a 56-mile long ditch that reduced waterfowl and wading bird habitat and seriously altered an important ecosystem.
Sierra Club opposed the project and for many years worked to correct the damage the original engineering project caused.
Approval of the designation still requires approval in the Senate.
Anyone who supports this measure should contact Sen. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio to urge them to advance this measure.