The Loxahatchee River is known as the river of turtles and also as Florida’s first federally designated wild and scenic river.
But the river that meanders for about seven miles through Jupiter, and is enjoyed by kayakers and canoers, is also in trouble. The trouble comes from the invasion of saltwater that has been deadly for some of the wildlife.
"The Loxahatchee River was short circuited," said Rob Rossmanith, Jonathan Dickinson State Park biologist. "It did not get the freshwater and saltwater was able to come up river in the dry season, and that killed several miles worth of cypress."
As part of the effort to restore the river to its natural state, some of the cut-throughs that people made have been blocked, which reduces the infiltration of saltwater.
Once the saltwater is warded off, the river can start healing, but it needs some help "We're trying to jump start the recruitment of these native cypress in areas where the recruitment isn't happening as fast as we want," said Rossmanith.
The plan is to plant about 1,000 new cypress trees along 60 acres of the river.
"The cypress provide a lot of habitat for native plants, we're talking air plants, about Spanish moss, orchids, and native animals use the live and dead plants to live," Rossmanith said. "The most important thing that we are most concerned about with restoration is the salinity; how much freshwater are we getting down the river and are we meeting the goals of pushing that saltwater wedge back."
To gauge their progress they use special instruments that measure the amount of freshwater in the river.
The multi-agency project has one goal: Restoring the Loxahatchee River to its natural beauty, "There's a lot of work to be done still, but we are much better than we were 50 years ago," said Rossmanith