Restoration of Coastal Wetlands in Miami-Dade County, Florida

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Milano, Gary R.
Marine Biology; Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology
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Rapid urbanization and associated coastal development in South Florida over the last 100 years have virtually eliminated the low coastal wetlands along approximately 21 miles of mainland shoreline and approximately 12 miles of barrier island shoreline bordering Biscayne Bay. These wetland communities, which are essential to the general health of the estuarine ecosystem, were replaced by eroding unconsolidated fill shorelines and bulkheads. Historical wetlands are being restored on publicly owned lands through cooperative efforts of federal, state, and local agencies. The restoration process has involved the removal of bulkheads and fill, species specific elevation grading, creation of flushing channels, removal of exotic trees, and planting of wetland vegetation. In addition, unconsolidated shorelines are being stabilized and enhanced with mangroves and associated limerock protection barriers. This paper contains details of ten projects, which comprises all of the large-scale coastal wetlands restoration efforts, conducted by Miami-Dade County, with recommendations for effective restoration and project management from the development of a design to implementation. These projects took place between 1988 and 1998 and were conducted as part of Miami-Dade County’s Biscayne Bay Coastal Habitat Restoration Program.