Environmental Restoration in Florida
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (IFAS) at the University of Florida is actively involved in environmental restoration projects around the state of Florida. Most notable of these projects are the high profile multi-agency efforts in South Florida, focusing on ecological and water quality restoration of the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee. There are, however, a number of additional areas in Florida for which IFAS has/is providing leadership and assistance for environmental restoration to improve water quality in our state, including the Indian River Lagoon and St. Johns River Basin. Research, extension and education programs all play key roles in the overall water quality restoration effort in Florida.
Conditions In Your Watershed
The Environmental Protection Agency maintains a directory of Florida river corridor and wetlands restoration projects.
Resources and Programs
The University of Florida provides research, education and extension resources to assist state and federal agencies, business and industry, communities and individual citizens in addressing water quality concerns. These programs are designed to provide information for specific audiences, such as farmers, homeowners and youth.
The University of Florida has established programs designed to provide assistance with environmental restoration. Below are some key links to information and resources available to assist you.
The University of Florida is home to Florida Cooperative Extension Service, which develops and delivers programs designed to provide educational outreach into all counties of the state. Outreach education enables the research developed at colleges and universities and from other sources throughout the world to be interpreted and delivered to the end user, which is often a home or business owner or agricultural producer. Some of the major Extension education programs addressing environmental restoration are:
Florida Sea Grant and the Cooperative Extension Service are outreach partners for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Project, providing science-based communication to scientists, resource managers, and the public through the Florida Bay Education Project. The health and viability of the Florida Bay ecosystem is tied to, and inextricably intertwined with, the Everglades restoration effort.
The Wetlands and Water Quality Extension ProgramM at the University of Florida operates under the auspices of the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), and is based in the Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory of the Soil and Water Science Department. The emphasis of the program is on the role of wetlands in controlling or enhancing water quality. More specifically, the program addresses wetland restoration, wetland resource management and land use, wetlands-related best management practices and constructed wetlands. Extension provides valuable technical resources to local citizens’ groups, as well as local elected officials, and planners and agencies.
The Florida Cooperative Extension Service has prepared factsheets for EQIP (Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentive Program) and maintains links to Conservation Practice Job Sheets for particular conservation practices, including development of riparian forest buffers. These links may also be accessed through the Water Quality Decision Support Systems Laboratory webpage maintained by the Soil and Water Science Department.
Coordinated through the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences/Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, LAKEWATCH is one of the largest lake monitoring programs in the nation. LAKEWATCH baseline condition and monitoring data can provide information needed for lake restoration decisions.
Researchers at the University of Florida’s Department of Soil and Water Science Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory investigate and develop new technologies to advance environmental restoration. Some examples of major research efforts include:
- Spatial and temporal patterns of soil phosphorus enrichment (pre-restoration) in the Everglades Water Conservation Areas
- Influence of drainage and reflooding on phosphorus retention characteristics of soils in storm water treatment areas
- Indian River Lagoon hydrodynamics and water quality model: nutrient transformations in sediments
- Potential impacts of sediment dredging on the internal phosphorus load in Lake Okeechobee
- Characterization of biological and chemical factors affecting sediment processes of the lower Saint Johns River
- Ecological indicators for monitoring and assessment of degraded and restored marshes
- Ecological indicators for monitoring and assessment of degraded and restored riparian wetlands
Restoration research is also conducted through the Hydrology and Water Quality Program in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida.
- Simulation of the impact of the Everglades National Park Restoration Plan on water balance, crop yield, and movement of agricultural chemicals
- Agro-Ecosystems Indicators of Sustainability as Affected by Cattle Density in Ranch Management Systems
- Evaluation of Cow-Calf Best Management Practices for Reducing Phosphorus Loadings in the Lake Okeechobee Basin. Study conducted by Sanjay Shukla, Wendy Graham and Ken Campbell in South Florida.
- Evaluating Impacts of Citrus Production on Groundwater Quality
- Evaluation of reservoirs for runoff storage in the Caloosahatchee watershed
- Optimization of Best Management Practices for Beef Cattle Ranching in the Lake Okeechobee Basin
College and University Education
Youth and continuing adult education are critical to develop new talent and human resources to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in environmental restoration are available within several departments at the University of Florida. Key departments include: