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FWC and partners complete largest mangrove restoration project in Florida history

Area of restored mangrove habitat on Fruit Farm Creek
Media contact: Ryan Sheets, 727-282-7642 or Release Date: 02-27-2023   All Articles Tags:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the City of Marco Island completed a project to restore over 200 acres of mangrove forest in Collier County. The project on Fruit Farm Creek in the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve took two years to complete and is considered the largest mangrove restoration of its kind in Florida history.

The construction of the road between Marco Island and neighboring Goodland cut off natural waterflow and impounded wetlands decades ago, resulting in the loss of 60 acres of mangrove trees. Tidal flows were restored to two branches of creek that historically flowed south of San Marco Road. Staff installed new culvert pipes to reconnect natural hydrology and removed sediment to enhance 3,000 feet of creek by improving water-carrying capacity and access for fish and wildlife.

Tidewaters now reach 209 acres of previously impounded wetland. Stressful growing conditions were relieved for the remaining live mangrove trees and seedlings will sprout to naturalize areas that have appeared barren. Healthy mangrove forests contribute to productive fisheries and have the added benefits of flood protection for residents and greater resilience against sea level rise.

In 2017, Hurricane Irma caused damage to trees that were stressed by altered hydrology and highlighted the urgent need for habitat restoration at Fruit Farm Creek. Funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for fish habitat restoration in areas affected by Hurricane Irma allowed FWC and partners to complete this project.

To learn more about the FWC’s Aquatic Habitat Conservation and Restoration projects, visit For more information on this project, contact FWC biologist Corey Anderson at 863-581-6898.