Everglades Restoration Project

Friday, February 1, 2013

by Miranda Krebs

 

There are seriously needed initiatives to bring the Everglades back to its healthy former glory and save a number of species of plants and animals. While some of the initiatives may cost more than a little money, the price tag is well worth conserving the natural plants and animals of the Everglades.

Originally covering over 11,000 miles of Florida, the Everglades is a vast ecosystem consisting of thousands of plant and animal species. By restoring wetlands, more than sixty species of endangered animals will be able to survive in their natural habitats, such as the Florida panther or the American crocodile. Called the “River of Grass,” the Everglades consist of marshes, ponds, flatlands, and prairies. In the past hundred years or so, the Everglades resources have been slowly depleting, due to homesteading, farming, and general population growth. The animals that have made their homes there have been pushed into cities, which has lead to another slew of problems for residents of Florida ("Florida Department," 2011).

The government also seeks to greatly improve the quality of the water in the Everglades. Restoring the water quality not only helps the wildlife in the area but ensures a safe supply of water for Floridians, so improving the quality of the water benefits nearly everyone in the state. In 2012, a strategy using basins and storm water was started for additional water storage and to reach the low levels of phosphorous that the Everglades needs. Too much phosphorous leads to death in plants and consequentially animals, so the extra water is directed into basins to avoid flooding and upsetting the delicate chemical and mineral balance. The strategy also uses native Florida plants to naturally remove harmful chemicals from the water, rendering it safer for animals and humans ("Florida Department" 2011).

There are other plans and programs in place to help the Everglades. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) is a $13.5 billion plan covering 16 counties. Approved in 2000, this program plans “to capture fresh water that now flows unused to the ocean and the gulf and redirect it to areas that need it most”. Most of the water will go back to the ecosystem, but some will be set aside to enhance water supplies for cities and farmers in southern Florida ("The Journey To”). The Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (NEEPP) was passed in 2007 to expand current programs to include more rivers and estuary systems. This plan “recognizes that the Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie watersheds are critical water resources of the State” and has added them to existing restoration efforts (“South Florida Water Management”, 2012).

Restoring the Everglades is crucial not only for the plants and animals that reside there, but also for the humans that share the state and the space with them. It may cost a large sum of money, but the benefit from these restoration projects and programs greatly outweighs the cost. While natural habitats are being restored, the people of Florida get access to safer, cleaner water to use for farming and in cities.

Works Cited:

Florida Department of Environmental Protection. (2011, January 20). Retrieved from            http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/everglades/

The Journey to Restore America. (n.d.). Retrieved from            http://www.evergladesplan.org/about/about_cerp_brief.aspx

Southern Florida Water Management District. (2012). Retrieved from            http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb protecting and restoring/other everglades