BREVARD COUNTY, FL. – The Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands, commonly referred to as the Viera Wetlands, will officially – but partially -- reopen to the public on Monday, March 4.
The wetlands, located at 3658 Charlie Corbeil Way in Viera, have been off limits to the public since June 2023. For the past seven months, a $2.7M project has been underway to remove vegetative muck and overgrown cattails from four ponds located on the site adjacent to the South-Central Regional Water Reclamation Facility in Viera. The main focus of the cleanup effort was to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous levels from the ponds that feed into Four Mile Canal, which ultimately leads into the St. Johns River.
The March 4 opening is considered a “partial” reopening since some work remains in progress on the 200-acre site. The reopening was originally targeted for late February, but heavy rainfall totals in January and early February led to delays.
Access to the wetlands will be for pedestrians (including those on bicycles) only, but heavy equipment-rutted dirt access roads remain in use by contractor vehicles and will remain off limits to motorized vehicles. Likewise, an area adjacent to the wetlands and previously used for pedestrian vehicle parking remains in use as a staging area for the contractor. Brevard County Utility Services Director Edward Fontanin said visitors should park their vehicles away from the staging areas and avoid blocking access to contractor materials and equipment.
The wetlands project is funded through federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars.
Fontanin cautioned that the dirt access roads to the wetlands are rutted and can become quite muddy when it rains. Also, under no circumstances should the public go beyond the access areas because this remains an active work site, he said.
“We are happy to provide a limited access to allow the public to experience the wetlands, but what they will see on March 4th is not the finished product,” Fontanin said. “We ask for patience as the contractor is working on the completion.”
Fontanin said it is anticipated that vegetation plantings will occur in the April-May time period, with completion of the overall project sometime this coming June.
“When people come back and walk and bike the wetlands that people are familiar with they will see it has eventually received a haircut that improves visibility and water quality,” he said.