The takeaway message:
The Florida Everglades ecosystem is home to important wildlife habitat, and millions of Floridians rely on the wetland for clean drinking water. But flood and water control measures, introduced species and increased development have dubbed the Everglades National Park the most threatened park in the U.S. Despite disruptions on many fronts due to COVID-19, efforts to restore this area have continued.
What’s going on?
On April 30, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that the South Florida Water Management District was issued a permit to begin construction on the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Stormwater Treatment Area. It will contain a 6,500-acre wetland that will help store and treat water, and advocates say it will boost the Florida economy by creating construction jobs. The goal of the EAA Reservoir Project is to send more clean water south to the parched lowermost part of the Everglades and Florida Bay.
In another move to conserve the area, the state of Florida purchased 20,000 acres located within the Everglades in Broward County to stop an oil drilling project. The state paid $16.56 million to buy the land, and the South Florida Water Management District took the title.
“We will permanently save this land from oil production,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference at Everglades Holiday Park, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “And apart from that, it will be largest wetlands acquisition in a decade.”
Why it matters.
The Everglades acts as a sponge, storing and filtering water that roughly 8 million Floridians rely on. The vast wetland also naturally improves water quality by filtering out pollutants and absorbing excess nutrients. On top of that, the Everglades contains essential habitat for endangered and threatened flora and fauna like Florida panthers, piping plovers and West Indian manatees. Added preservation measures for the area may help prevent threats to this important resource.
What can I do?
- Support organizations that are focused on protecting the Everglades, like the National Park Service and the South Florida National Parks Trust.
- Get familiar with the history of Everglades restoration and the legislation that has impacted it.
- About the importance of the Everglades for water quality and treatment.
- About the different endangered and threatened animals that call the Everglades home.
- About the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, a multibillion-dollar restoration project that Everglades National Park is pursuing to protect the area.
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