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Florida Everglades Restoration Project: Spreader Canal Restores Freshwater, Saving Wildlife (PHOTOS)

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Finally there's some good news for the Everglades.

A canal project has successfully begun to restore freshwater flows to Florida Bay and preserve water for the Everglades, thereby helping to save nearby wildlife as well as the local fishing industry.

The C-111 Spreader Canal, part of the first phase of the Everglades restoration project, was dedicated Friday afternoon, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

The $26 million project, which began construction in 2010, pumps 290 million gallons of water daily into the eastern edge of the national park, the Associated Press reports, an area "starved for freshwater" after drainage by developments in Miami-Dade County.

"It keeps the water that's the right water in the right place and avoids those losses," said Tom Strowd of the South Florida Water Management District.

Audubon of Florida hopes this "hydraulic ridge" will help restore wading bird populations like that of the roseate spoonbill, whose numbers greatly decreased as freshwater became scarce.

The Associated Press reports that the canal project heeded environmental experts' warning of a "complete ecosystem collapse" due to Florida Bay's shallow waters.

Much of the Everglades was rerouted and diked in the early 20th century in an effort to drain what was then dubbed a "useless" swamp. Marjorie Stoneman Douglas and her 1947 book "The Everglades: River of Grass" are largely credited with bringing international attention to the deteriorating conditions in the Glades.

This project is the latest in the federal Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, a multibillion dollar effort to rectify developmental damage to and restore the health of the subtropical wetland.

Other Everglades projects in the queu for Congressional approval include restoring freshwater flows to Biscayne Bay, constructing storage reservoirs in Broward County, increasing water flows through the central Everglades and adding 2.5 miles of bridges on the Tamiami Trail, according to the Miami Herald.

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