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Florida DEP CAMA, SE: North Fork, St. Lucie Aquatic Preserve

Sponsoring Organization:  Florida Department of Environmental Protection: Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA): Southeast

Description:  The North Fork, St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve, designated as an aquatic preserve in 1972, consists of a freshwater system upstream and a brackish system near the St. Lucie Estuary. The Preserve is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas. It is a major tributary to the St. Lucie Estuary, Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean (through St. Lucie Inlet). The river is a freshwater system upstream and a brackish system near the St. Lucie Estuary. The river is tidally influenced to its two main upstream headwaters (Five Mile and Ten Mile Creeks). Recreational uses include fishing, boating, and swimming. Agriculture and residential communities use connecting canals for drainage. Mangroves, leatherfern, sawgrass, tidal marsh and floodplain forest make up the primary plant communities along the riverfront. The aquatic preserve contains fishes, turtles, birds, alligators, and manatees. The adjacent Savannas Preserve State Park contains various natural communities such as pine flatwoods and scrub. Major issues facing the system include stormwater discharge from agricultural and residential areas in the region. Water quality parameters and outbreaks of harmful algae blooms are monitored regularly. The preservation of adjacent lands (state park) and efforts to reduce stormwater input and sedimentation (Central and South Florida Restudy) are addressing most of the needs of the system.

Web Site:  http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/northfork/

Program Contact:  Laura Herren

Program Contact Email:  Laura.Herren@dep.state.fl.us

Program Contact Web URL:  http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/ps/comment.asp

Program Purpose:  Hydrologic Restoration Significant portions of the North Fork St. Lucie River were dredged in the early 1900s to support navigation and provide effective flood relief. Spoil from the dredging project was deposited along the banks of the newly created channel. These deposits resulted in the isolation of wetlands and closure of oxbows which historically allowed the water to slowly meander south towards the St. Lucie Estuary. Initial hydrologic restoration efforts along the North Fork St. Lucie River included an oxbow reconnection and three berm breach sites. Fish and invertebrate sampling at the restoration sites indicate increased levels of dissolved oxygen and use by several commercially important species, such as snook, snapper, shrimp, and blue crabs, as well as rare tropical peripheral fishes. Research and monitoring are performed in partnership with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Monitoring Stations:  530 stations are registered in the database (search/display)

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