Everglades National Park (Pic by Rodney Cammauf, National Park Service; via army.mil)

Audubon of Florida is urging members of Congress to immediately approve the C-111 Spreader Canal Western project, a longtime priority for the environmental group.

The project is expected to increase freshwater flows to Taylor Slough in Everglades National Park and could revive a greatly impaired ecosystem. According to Audubon, the delivery of more freshwater to Everglades wetlands is essential to many species of wading birds in the area, which have died off in large numbers over the past 100 years.

Many environmentalists argue that the project also plays an integral role in meeting the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan — a series of goals and objectives designed to restore the ecosystem.

The project is expected to improve vegetation patterns and return coastal zone salinity levels in the western Florida Bay to levels as close as possible to pre-drainage models.

The Army Corps of Engineers signed off on the project next week. Following review by the Office of Management and Budget, it will next be submitted to Congress for authorization.

“This critical project can now be included in legislation required to advance implementation,” said Megan Tinsley, Everglades policy associate for the Audubon, in a Monday morning press release. “If this project is operated to achieve ecological benefits such as revived wildlife populations, we will demonstrate that successful restoration of the Everglades is possible.”

As we have previously reported, the Everglades is also suffering the effects of methylmercury poisoning, which some belief has contributed in large part to the diminishing numbers of wading birds and other species in the area.

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