Southern Coastal Systems

Southern Coastal Systems. Photo by John Gretchel.

The Southern Coastal System region is a contiguous network of coastal wetlands and estuaries that wraps around the southern end of the Florida peninsula from Biscayne Bay on the southeastern coast to the Ten Thousand Islands area on the upper southwest coast, and includes Florida Bay and the Lower Southwest Coast. This region is one of the most ecologically and economically important regions in the state of Florida. Over the past century, water management practices and agriculture/urban development have disrupted the availability, timing and distribution of fresh water to the Southern Coastal System, which has significantly altered the structure and function of these ecosystems. The objective of restoration is to restore and sustain the highly productive estuaries and adjacent coastal wetlands by restoring freshwater flows to the extent practical. Reestablishing more natural flows will restore estuarine salinity conditions, resulting in improved habitat for fish and wildlife resources.