However, the Everglades is actually a slow-moving river that is constantly flowing. Hurricane Irma tore up much of what remained last year, uprooting mangroves that had managed to survive the surging salt. Introduced species pose a serious threat to the native habitats and communities of the Everglades. Native to other locations, introduced species are introduced to new areas through human activities. Ecologist Peter Frederick explains why this massive effort is worth its multi-billion-dollar cost. Lake Okeechobee is shaped like a very large shallow bowl and when it collects too much water from rain, other lakes, and streams, it overflows its southern edge and water flows out creating the Everglades. The wet season lasts from May through November. With the extensive integration of canal and levee systems, much of the rain water is being cut off before it can reach the Everglades. A national park, a world heritage site, an international biosphere reserve, and we’re starving it of fresh water.”. “Notice how turbid and brown the water is,” Davis said, standing up on his skiff and peering into the bay. The reason for this problem is the growth rate of the species occurring all over the Everglades. Introduced species pose a serious threat to the ecosystems of south Florida including the Everglades. The region is again in mild drought, meaning that rainwater isn’t currently coming to the Everglades’ salvation. This isn’t the time to give up.”. But now she can’t go near it — if it’s not because of the nauseating smell of the rotting algae and dead animals, it’s the unknown effects of the toxic chemicals in the water. 1995). The water would filter south through a system of marshes to deliver millions of gallons of replenishment to the ecosystem. Its waters cannot feed the Everglades and are diverted into St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers - affecting the estuaries. Drained lands were quickly taken over by agricultural interests, resulting in endless fields of sugar cane and rice. As part of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Port… The water table in this area is just below the land’s surface. The Everglades Protection Area was identified as a priority for preservation and improvement planning. Without the nourishing freshwater, the ecosystem further south has become saltier and prone to disastrous events, such as happened in 2015, when pristine water turns into a muddy slush, causing fish to flee or die. Currently there are over 1,400 miles (2,253 kilometers) of canals and levees within the Everglades region used for water control and diversion. “We have the capability to stem the tide by increasing the flow of fresh water. The state just has to find those sources and help the polluters cap the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen entering the various waterways. The dead water sort of moves around the bay and you think ‘I’ve just gotta get out of here.’”. Since taking office in January, DeSantis has taken an unTrumpian approach to the environment, outlining a $2.5bn plan over four years to rescue the ailing Everglades. Not long after developers started draining the wetlands for agriculture and paved it over for roads and houses, the effects started rippling through the system. “Voters got hyped up about red tide and said ‘we want the government to act,’” said Rene Price, an expert in the hydrology of the Everglades at Florida International University. Wildlife officials removed 5,000 from the Everglades, according to a statement from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Because pythons can grow to such unmanageable sizes, it was inevitable that some irresponsible owners would release the snakes into the wild. The main sources of food include algae and weeds, which it competes for with birds and other smaller fish. “The protection of water resources is one of the most pressing issues facing our state.” Environmentalists have been cheered by the contrast from the previous governor, Rick Scott, who cut funding for environmental programs. Michael Dorcas, a herpetologist at Davidson College, says that the Everglades were uniquely suited for an explosion in the python population. But the consequences of Florida’s century-long attempt to bend the environment to its will aren’t hard to find. The Lake is heavily polluted including its muds. Temperatures during this time of year can exceed 90°F. “We only get about a third of the water in the eastern Florida Bay that we received historically. Executive Summary - EPA and Port Everglades Partnership (PDF) (10 pp, 1,2 MB, June 2018, EPA-420-S-18-002) Ports are key to the United States economy and serve as gateways to transport cargo, fuel, and passengers around the globe. Florida has even thrown itself into a legal battle to halt a controversial oil drilling project in the north-eastern reaches of the Everglades. Marjory was well into her 70s, but she knew she had to fight to save the Everglades, not just because it was a unique ecosystem, but because it also was the main source … Talk about your unwanted guests. The plan would tackle local water pollution, protect springs and finish raising the Tamiami Trail, a highway that links Miami and Florida’s west coast by cutting across the Everglades, to allow water to flow south to the ecosystem. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and supports the employment of over 23 million Americans. Starved of fresh water from a reworking of its natural plumbing further north and menaced by seas rising due to climate change, the Everglades and its adjoining bay are teetering at the edge of existential crisis. This led to the die-off of seagrass, crucial for local marine life, leaving the water matted with deceased vegetation. The Everglades is a slow-moving river. The Everglades faces a major problem of invasive species. These species were originally introduced to Florida as pets, food sources, ornamentals, or as biological controls. A severe slump in rainfall in 2015 meant salinity levels rocketed in the bay, with the water becoming twice as salty in the ocean. During the early 1900’s, two major hurricanes hit Florida, killing thousands of people. A wedge-shaped expanse of water between the Everglades and the Florida Keys, it is a clean, sun-dappled 1,000 sq mile playground for reddening tourists, grizzled fishermen and loud-shirted locals. DeSantis has called for the resignations of the entire South Florida Water Management District board, which controls water policy for the region, and has appointed two members – Ron “Alligator Ron” Bergeron and Chauncey Goss – who both have strong green credentials. The Everglades today receives less than one-third of its historic water flow, the water is contaminated by fertilizer and other runoff, and the wildlife-rich wetlands are half the size they were when the federal government started its draining projects in the 1920s. The Army Corps of Engineers confined the Kissimmee River to a 53 mile (85.3 km) long canal system, destroying thousands of acres of wetlands. The most famous reptile of the Everglades animals is the American alligator. Development pressures from agriculture, industry, and urban areas have destroyed more than half of the original Everglades. This process may result in oxygen depletion of the water body after the bacterial degradation of the algae. Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and is an introduced contaminant from manmade pollution sources such as coal-burning power plants and municipal and medical waste incinerators. Urban development, industry, and agriculture pressures have destroyed more than half of the original Everglades. When the temperatu… The 1,500 acres (6.1 square km) of land protected by the dike is known as the Everglades Agricultural Ar… These infestations of non-native species have adverse effects to native ecosystems. For example, the Everglades ecosystem provides drinking water for one-third of Floridians and irrigation for much of t… The Everglades is America's third largest national park -- behind Death Valley and Yellowstone -- and covers over 1.5 million acres. “This area, just last year smelled like death. “But we shouldn’t be sitting on our hands,” Price said. 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