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Grants At Work: Wetland Restoration of Rolling Meadows

To those who know Florida’s delicate ecosystems, the importance of wetlands should come as no surprise. These diverse paradises for native species like alligators, great blue herons, and waterfowl are known as “nature’s kidneys,” helping purify and filter the water that passes through them.

The list of reasons why wetlands are crucial to our and many other species’ survival is endless. Sadly, so is the list of ways these fragile habitats can be destroyed. Even if wetlands are left intact, they can be suffocated from their water sources due to human manipulation, leaving them useless to the species that once thrived in them.

Rolling Meadows is a 1,500-acre impoundment located in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, a prime example of where normal wetland function is impaired. Water control structures put in place for flood control and water management impede the historic flows of water into the impoundment, causing the northwest portion of the impoundment to be over-drained.

With the help of a $50,000 Wildlife Foundation of Florida grant from our Foundation, FWC biologists were able to restore 98 acres of critically important wetlands. The project required a breakdown of the woody vegetation overgrowth, a prescribed burn, and tilling of the soil. This soil disturbance mimics rooting and grazing herbivores, which were unable to previously reach the soil due to the vegetation, and promotes early growth of annual plants, producing lots of seeds and energy for wildlife.

Since project completion, biologists have noted deer, turkeys, and mottled ducks in the restored area. These 98 acres can now support the native species they once historically housed, as well as improve the water quality of the surrounding area.

Funds for this project and ones like it are made possible by purchases of our “Deer” license plate. Click here to order your own and support the conservation of game species and their habitats in Florida.

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