Wild about the Everglades? Look again.
Everglades National Park was created in 1934 to protect its incredibly diverse ecosystems from encroaching urban development in southern Florida—an idea first pitched, interesting enough, in 1928 by a Miami land developer. But the damage and loss of life from two hurricanes in the 1920s prompted decades of state and federal efforts at flood control but draining canals and changing drainage patterns. These efforts reached their heights in the 1930s and 1940s with the Central and South Florida Flood Control Project, leading to extensive draining of the Everglades, with the excess water being sent to the vast growing coastal communities of Miami and surrounding towns.
By the 1960s and 1970s, the resulting changes to the drainage patterns and water quality of the Everglades had a drastic effect on the flora and fauna, with numerous native species dwindling in numbers and numerous invasive species being introduced. Following several scientific studies, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was signed into law by President Clinton in 2000. This multi-billion dollar project, expected to extend over 35 years, is the largest hydrologic restoration plan ever undertaken in the United States. The restoration will also mitigate the effects of rising sea levels due to climate change.
In 1979, Everglades National Park was listed on the World Heritage list as “the largest designated sub-tropical wilderness reserve on the North American continent.” But given the extent of human interventions in the preceding century, what is so wild about the Everglades? (Photo by Moni3, shared here under CA BY-3.0).
By Justin Porter
The New York Times
August 17, 2017