The marsh is near the Kissimmee Upper Chain of Lakes. The project came as part of a grant proposal under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). Groups can use NAWCA to apply for grant money for projects that help preserve wetlands and nearby uplands habitats, specifically those used by waterfowl and other migratory birds.
DU successfully petitioned for that funding under the act and worked with the SFWMD to fill ditches and increase water flow to assist the prairie wetland system.
“The Gardner-Cobb Marsh was acquired by SFWMD to support the Kissimmee River Headwaters Revitalization Project,” said DU Director of Conservation Programs Emily Purcell in an announcement celebrating the project’s completion.
“Historical changes to the marsh dehydrated expansive areas of wetlands leading to shifts in wetland vegetation diversity that included an increase of non-native species and loss of wetland-dependent species. The restoration work on the Gardner-Cobb Marsh helps reverse this.”
DU is a Memphis-based nonprofit with a membership of about 700,000 that works to preserve wetlands for waterfowl across the U.S. Adam Putnam, a former Agriculture Commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2018, serves as the group’s CEO.
Putnam took the position with DU in 2019 after his loss to now-Gov. Ron DeSantis in the 2018 GOP Primary. Putnam also praised the Gardner-Cobb Marsh project’s completion Wednesday.
“The Gardner-Cobb Marsh project is a perfect example of DU’s mission — restoring wetlands to benefit waterfowl, wildlife and people,” Putnam said.
“This partnership with the South Florida Water Management District is another big step in the revitalization of the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee watersheds that will restore wetland habitats for native wildlife like waterfowl and wading birds and enhance public recreational opportunities while improving water quality.”