Coastal Watershed Institute
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd S.
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
The Coastal Watershed Institute (CWI) was established to address regional concerns regarding the use and conservation of coastal watersheds by supporting undergraduate and graduate education in marine science and coastal watershed study; by focusing and coordinating university research on coastal environments and the conservation of natural resources; and by disseminating information to the citizens of Southwest Florida to engage and inform them about the health of coastal watersheds and related issues.
Created in 2004, CWI has a service area that includes Charlotte Harbor and its tributaries, the Caloosahatchee River and Lake Okeechobee, Estero Bay, Corkscrew Swamp, Naples Bay, Rookery Bay, the Ten Thousand Islands, and the Florida Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp. Southwest Florida is home to diverse and sensitive aquatic habitats, and is vulnerable to environmental pressures that accompany rapid population growth. CWI focuses resources on conserving and protecting coastal watersheds in order to address the complex environmental issues that face Southwest Florida.
CWI enhances FGCU's Marine Science (B.S.) and Environmental Science (M.S.) programs by supporting undegraduate interns and graduate students interested in marine and coastal watershed science. Both of these programs provide students with the technical training they will need for an increasingly competitive job market, and both require students to become actively involved in research as part of their educational experience.
In just thirteen years, Florida Gulf Coast University has made great strides in the fields of watershed study. FGCU has attracted external funding for both research and education and has received national recognition for implementing innovative teaching strategies. These efforts have resulted in the awarding of over $8 million in support of coastal watershed research and education in Florida. Institute faculty currently conduct research on the use of oysters and oyster-reef communities as indicators of ecosystem health and on the influence of changes in freshwater inflow on estuaries downstream. FGCU has also taken a leadership role in restoration coordination in Southwest Florida through its involvement with the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration.