SEMNINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - It has been two years since neighbors have been able to enjoy canoeing and kayaking at Little Wekiva River, which has become overgrown with invasive plants that are threatening the river's ecosystem.
Help, however, will soon be on the way to restore the protected waterway.
BJ Sellers said he bought his home on the Little Wekiva River so his wife and two young daughters could "spend a lot of time making memories," such as canoeing and kayaking. But, with all the overgrown plants and invasive species -- it's a barren nature trail instead of a flowing river.
"The ecosystem has already been affected. We’ve seen where a lot of wonderful creatures -- certain birds that are threatened -- have moved away," he said. "River otters that we used to have, alligators, certain species of reptiles and amphibians, no longer are here."
Some neighbors believe the silt used to build up the I-4 Ultimate Project is to blame, leading congresswoman Stephanie Murphy to ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an investigation.
"I think it’s important that we figure it out so that we can prevent it from happening in the future," she said.
On Monday, Murphy also announced that Seminole County would receive $688,000 in federal funding to help restore the river.
"Remove the sedimentation, re-contour the river, as well as replant native plants so that it can help keep the river flowing once we get all of the sedimentation out," she said.
Those efforts are expected to begin in the fall, though it's not clear how long it will take to complete.
The Florida Department of Transportation said the environment around the construction areas for the I-4 Project is protected lands and that they are not aware of any damage to the river.