Dec, 17, 2022 was a special day to experience the natural beauty of the ancient Florida Kissimmee River, meandering south through central Florida into Lake Okeechobee down the center of the state. This day was a celebration by all who boarded the pontoon boat with Captain Mark to experience the natural restored flow of the river and its serenity. The historic river flowed 103 miles meandering miles between Lake Kissimmee and Lake Okeechobee. After a long time quest to restore the river to its natural curving beauty, guests gathered at the Riverwoods Field lab in Cornwell to explore the natural beauty and practice yoga to renew the mind, body and spirit.
The yoga class met at the Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Center for Environmental Studies in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) in Cornwell.
On this beautiful winter day with an abundance of wetland birds and alligators sunning on the riverbank, Yoga participants spent the day cruising the restored river counting wetland birds with many sightings of herons, egrets, wood storks and over 25 endangered Everglades Snail Kites that have returned to the restored river and wetlands. The river’s water levels were still high from recent hurricanes; however, the flood waters are being held in the river’s restored wetlands, helping to prevent flooding of points south.
After over 20 years of research and construction, the Kissimmee River Restoration Project is successfully restoring flow to 44 miles of the original, meandering river, rehydrating over 20,000 acres and 40 square miles of floodplain wetlands to recreate habitat for wildlife, wading birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and aquatic invertebrates. The restored wetlands provide critical water storage, recharges the aquifer, prevents future flooding and filters the nutrient rich waters that flow into Lake Okeechobee. The restoration is a 50/50 funded project shared by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). For more information about the SFWMD’s research on the Kissimmee: https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/kissimmee-river. The Kissimmee River tour was guided by Riverwoods’ retired Director Loisa Kerwin.
After the river cruise guests returned to the Riverwoods Visitors Center for a restorative yoga session co-led by Dr. Nancy Dale and Whitney Hummel. If you are interested in scheduling a group tour of the Kissimmee River at Riverwoods, please contact Riverwoods’ new manager, Amber Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org For more information about Riverwoods Environmental Education and Research Programs: www.ces.fau.edu/riverwoods.