LILA is a working, 80-acre model of the Everglades ecosystem. This "living laboratory" gives experts an opportunity to research and apply restoration techniques on a small, controlled scale before taking them into the 1.7 million-acre Everglades ecosystem. Scientists here can study the effects of water depth and flow rate on wading birds, tree islands, marsh plant communities, marsh fishes and invertebrates, and peat soils.
This unique facility was built in 2003 as a partnership between the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The public use areas of the Refuge just south of Lee Road contain several rectangular water impoundments rimmed by canals and levees. These numbered water impoundments or compartments, laid out in a grid pattern, allow for hiking and wildlife viewing. The LILA impoundments are located in Compartments 3 and 4, just southwest of the Marsh Trail. The Marsh Trail itself is counted as Compartment 7.
LILA is featured in this video from Florida International University. The video is 11 1/2 minutes long. A little over 3 minutes in, the role LILA plays in FIU research on water quality and flow for Everglades restoration is explained. LILA Video