That’s the headline of a report released Wednesday by a Congressionally-appointed committee of scientists. The state of mourning began at least as far back as the 1920s, when the botanist John Kunkel Small recorded his observations during an expedition, listing the Latin names of hundreds of plants and recording everywhere signs of their degradation and demise, from the âapproaching extermination of native coral lifeâ â which has come to pass around the Keys â to the ground itself âbeing drained and burned until it is unproductive.â, His panic is palpable in the exclamation points and capital letters he deployed in his report on the Lake Okeechobee area. CBS News The Everglades is the largest wetland of its kind in North America, but it's been under assault for generations by residential development, water … Sky and grass. On this episode of Intersection, we do a deep dive into the Everglades with Amy Green as she explains the reporting that went into the podcast, Drained, which was produced in partnership with the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Two big sugar companies now control 500,000 acres; today, more than eight million people also depend upon the glades for their drinking water. Nothing else. Without Everglades restoration, Floridaâs tourism-based economy is at risk.â. In a promising development, Congress just authorized $200 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Everglades restoration. Dry and high, prime real estate for mammals â of course man claimed it first. Twenty years on, a few of the major infrastructure projects have been built, but most are still on the drawing board, awaiting money. 1520 includes a record-setting $250 million in funding to restore the Everglades. Governor, Please Veto Two Bad Bills May 14, 2019. This program supports multi-year monitoring, modeling, and research projects that span the entire range of scientific disciplines. Getting into and out of these domes can be a nerve-pricking enterprise, not for the faint of heart. These islands are historical hide-outs for pirates, hermits and criminals. Everglades Restoration is making headway as several large projects are underway including the C-43 Reservoir along the Caloosahatchee River. Filed Under: Everglades Restoration, Local TV, Miami News, Tamiami Trail MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Florida’s efforts to restore the Everglades received a … Filter. Roseate Spoonbills in Big Cypress National Preserve. For years, whenever I found myself in Miami with an afternoon to spare, I sneaked off west to where a road abruptly separates the urban grid from the Everglades. To see more, visit WMFE. Everglades restoration needs to do more to account for climate change. An 8.5 square-mile community in South Florida has stymied Everglades restoration for years by blocking water flow to parched areas at the tip of the state, but new plans ranging in … The long-awaited stimulus package approved by Congress Monday night includes $250 million for Everglades restoration. Learn more about the Everglades’ restoration. Quick fix for Lake O algae woes uses land now roamed by cows. The two processes are tending to eliminate all the native life from the state. The mysterious cypress domes also tower above the grass, but they thrive just a few feet closer to sea level, or even in holes in the limestone below sea level. Follow NY Times Travel on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. âItâs all gone. Like everything in Everglades restoration, which aims to re-establish the natural flow of water through the unique ecosystem after decades of draining and canal-cutting, BBSEER has lofty goals. At night, only their eyes glitter in the beam of a flashlight. Over the last year, with different family members as companions, I made several visits deeper into the Everglades than Iâd ever been. “Restoring the Everglades by improving water infrastructure, movement, quality and timing is a top priority.” The Water Subcabinet and Task Force spent the week on the landscape to firsthand see the work being done and exploring ways to improve partnerships for effective implementation of the CERP. As the legislative session gets started in Tallahassee this… Twenty years ago this month President Bill Clinton signed into law a plan to save the Florida Everglades. “To me it’s just a fascinating thing and I just want to learn everything I can about it.”. Good news on the Everglades restoration front. Naples Daily News. The Everglades Foundation is among many area nonprofits studying the effects of human activity on the fresh water flow, and advocating efforts to restore the ecosystem. The South Florida Water Management District started construction in 2014 on an Everglades restoration reservoir, which is called the Everglades Agricultural Area … But it is profoundly imperiled by pollution, human schemes to drain and control it, animal and plant invasives and sea level rise. Distant rain over the saw grass in the Everglades National Park. The cypress domes are worth the challenge. Weâre in a dead zone now.â As he spoke, a full moon rose behind us and roseate spoonbills sailed in V-formation across pink cumulus clouds fading into periwinkle to the west. An anhinga, a water bird, on the Anhinga Trail in the scenic Royal Palm area of the Everglades National Park. An American alligator on the shore of the Turner River in Big Cypress National Preserve.Â Alligators were nearly hunted to extinction in the 1960s but surged back after restrictions. I also thought about the animal life that we werenât going to see because of the invasive species problem, and that humans are the worst invasive species of all. In 2000, the state and federal government agreed to a $4 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. So have the birds. Today it remains one of the biggest environmental restoration efforts in the world, but even with a price tag that will be around $17 Billion when it’s all finished, the project remains underfunded and behind schedule. Floridaâs freshwater wonder is threatened like never before with a rising sea level as restoration efforts lag. In 2000, the state and federal government agreed to a $4 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. The man to see for that is the Everglades guide Garl Harrold. One, visible as a hump of trees from the main park road, is so cinematic on the inside that it is named âThe Movie Dome.â It is a set-designerâs idea of a storybook tropical paradise: sunlight shafting in, white branches festooned with proliferations of flowering epiphytes or air flowers, including rare orchids like the ghost orchid, plumed birds beating their wings so close you can feel the air move, all of it mirrored and doubled in crystal water around our knees. Restoration projects in the Florida Everglades will be on the upswing in coming years with growing political interest in the effort and recent boosts … Yet after almost two weeks I still barely scratched around the edges of more than a million acres of wetlands with nearly 300 species of fish and about 360 bird species and more than 700 kinds of plants. The state’s top Republican leaders — including Gov. The bromeliads in the trees and the variety of plant life was fascinating. Slightly lower are the hardwood hammocks, just a few feet elevation above the river of grass but still in it. The pepper is so endemic that the park service is mulching it and sequestering it in small mountains visible from above as bright green squares throughout the backcountry. Researchers chip male pythons and track them to the nests of huge mother snakes, removing hundreds of eggs. Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Twenty years on, a few of the … âWe know what the consequences of inaction are, because weâve already experienced it: polluted waterways, toxic algae, sea grass die-off, continued habitat loss, and even threats to imperiled species,â said Stephen Davis, a foundation scientist. Ron DeSantis and Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott — had urged President Donald Trump for the spending. Today it remains one of the biggest environmental restoration efforts in … Martha Calloway of San Antonio was touring the Everglades for a day while her husband fished in Key Largo. What We Mean When We Talk About Everglades Restoration March 21, 2017 There’s a lot of attention - and a lot of money - going towards restoring the Everglades. Knowing all that, I wasnât so bothered by the legendary Everglades mosquitoes that came out with the spectacular sunset (âYou can set your watch to that,â locals say). Sections of Tamiami Trail â the main east-west road connecting Miami and Naples â are being turned into bridges to allow water to flow back into the sloughs to the south, bringing back native vegetation for the first time in a century. They wiped out 99 percent of the marsh rabbit and the raccoons, decimated the otters and are now setting their sights on the birds. Mysterious ploppings, splashings, groanings and crashings emanated from waters shrouded by the dense stands of palm and mangrove, and blue herons and great white egrets soared and settled again in the pink tinted vapor rising around us with the sun. DRAINAGE and FIRE! Iâve traveled far but never found a place where the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man are so palpable in one place. The state sponsors annual python-killing competitions. On Dec. 11, 2020 it’ll be 20 years since Congress passed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan to restore, protect and preserve South Florida’s ecosystem while providing for water-related needs of the region. But it does. (The winner of the 2020 âPython Bowlâ gets a truck.). Every few feet of elevation produces a discrete ecosystem with its own animals and plants that are not only adapted to but maintain the systems as well. âSneaky, sheâs around here somewhere.â âI saw Croc-zilla out here last week.â He is encyclopedic on the flora, pointing out plants like the lemon bacopa that the Calusa and Tequesta tribes used as mosquito repellent, and the saltwort, a pale green crunchy plant great as a snack or in a salad. In just two days, we saw two giants caught by the roadside in the area, and heard tell of a third. The Everglades formed 5,000 years ago. By then, dredging and pumping and draining of the sloughs â the technical term for the shallow, slow-moving water under the grasses â and species decimation was well underway. It once covered most of the peninsula of Florida, from Lake Okeechobee (the 10th largest fresh water lake in the United States) down to Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Where itâs not diverted or blocked by human engineering, the water still trickles south at the rate of a quarter mile a day, as it has for millenniums. "Funding for Everglades restoration, South Florida ecosystem restoration, our waterways funding as a whole." I know by the way eyes fill with tears when people get to talking about the glades. âHere we were again very forcibly impressed with the terrible destruction which is returning Florida to its primitive geological condition, namely a barren desert. Viewed from above, they are teardrop shaped, narrow at the top and bulging at the bottom, marking the shape of the water flowing in and around the holes. There are success stories. Ron DeSantis headed off an attempt to kill the reservoir planned for south of Lake Okeechobee and President Trump signed a … Twenty years ago, the original Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan envisioned more than 300 underground aquifer storage recovery (ASR) wells north of Lake Okeechobee. The C-43 Reservoir will be a large water basin that will collect water that is released from Lake Okeechobee and purify it before it … The snakes grow to tremendous length and weights â 15-foot 90 pounders have been found. The highest elevations in the Everglades are called pine rockland, and they are considered endangered habitat. Florida Gov. Get weekly updates from our Travel Dispatch newsletter, with tips on traveling smarter, destination coverage and photos from all over the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth; remote, never wholly known,â Marjory Stoneman Douglas wrote in her 1947 book, âThe Everglades: River of Grass.â âThe spears prick upward, tender green, glass green, bright green, darker green, to spread the blossoms and the fine seeds like brown lace,â she wrote. Whatâs gone is gone, and whatâs still there is threatened by invasives like the cattails and the ornamental plant Brazilian pepper that leapt from peopleâs manicured gardens and into the Everglades. Itâs a bit embarrassing to admit that anything in Florida â with its postcard palms plastered against postcard sunsets, its coconut tanning oil and Lily Pulitzer pinks and greens, its schmaltz and buffoonery and hanging chads and âFlorida Man,â with his love of Styrofoam, weapons and monster trucks â affects me this way. Everglades restoration has its own language of acronyms that abbreviate the various processes, places and projects, like CERP, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project. The Republican governor was there to watch Clinton, a Democrat, sign into law a bipartisan bill, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program, aka “CERP,” hailed as the largest environmental restoration project in the planet’s history. Most of the old pine woods are paved over with towns and apartment complexes and strip malls whose names â Pine Crest, Pine Heights, Pines â refer to what was there. She said the slog was the high point of the day. Alligators were nearly hunted to extinction in the 1960s but surged back after restrictions. Copyright 2020 WMFE. The fresh river flows.â. Work is now underway on a better way to move water into the parched Everglades. Saw grass at sunset in the Everglades National Park. I am not alone. But the ecosystem today is half the size it was before development. Shovels hit dirt on the first contract for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) South, which calls for the construction of culverts and a gap […] Hammocks are visible for miles on the flat grasses. This significant law would not have been achieved without the broad … "The president has already in the past couple of years supported Everglades restoration and putting it in his budget, so there is the expectation that that would continue," Perry said. For 175 years, the drive to control the flow of water was planned, plotted and executed with devastating results for the native inhabitants â flora, fauna and human. It is the only place where both alligators and crocodiles coexist. Of course we saw alligators. Twenty years ago this month President Bill Clinton signed into law a plan to save the Florida Everglades. The Everglades were designated a national park in 1947, the same year that its most ardent fan, the environmentalist Douglas, published her book. âWe simply cannot afford to wait any longer. As of 2015, in the Everglades, 60 plants were listed as endangered. FIU experts are available to discuss the … If doubt remains that Eden and the Fall coexist here, consider that the name of the author who extolled the wonders of this paradise is affixed to a school â the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland â forever associated with the 2018 school massacre that left 17 people dead. A project designed to improve water flows south to Everglades National Park is underway following a groundbreaking ceremony among federal and state officials on Oct. 21 in western Miami-Dade County. Panthers are collared and tracked near Big Cypress Preserve, but 21 were hit by cars last year, out of an estimated statewide population of only 150. What’s going on with Everglades restoration? We have got to be more careful with the earth.â Her cousin Carrie LoBasso agreed: âWhen I told all my friends I slogged through a swamp, traveled with a python, and went hunting for âalligator eyesâ in the dark night, most of them called me crazy. Nina Burleigh is a journalist and the author, most recently, of âGolden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trumpâs Women,â due out in paperback later this year. WMFE environmental reporter Amy Green has spent some 10 years looking into the progress- and this year she produced a podcast to explore some of the details behind this mind bogglingly complex plan to restore the River of Grass. All Florida shores have also been plagued by a series of deadly red tides caused by fertilizer and other pollutants. Tomorrow, December 11, the Everglades Foundation is virtually hosting the 4th annual John Marshall Everglades Symposium–featuring our own Tom Rosenbauer as one of the moderators. Along with the plants, the Burmese python is an unwelcome invader, probably introduced into the habitat first by pet owners when they got too big to keep in the condos. He picks up clients barefoot â in a 12-person Ford van in the parking lot of a fruit stand outside Homestead city limits. âThe dome felt otherworldly, calm and peaceful. As they pricked away at exposed skin and whined in my ears, I took it as proof that, for now anyway, the threatened glades biome lives on. Even a large mama-gator surrounded by about a dozen babies, sprawled lazily by the cycling path at the National Parkâs Shark Valley, as groups of tourists five feet away recorded the family on their iPhones. From afar and in the water, these dinosaur relics resemble half-submerged junked tires. He has silly nicknames for the monsters he claims lurk near his walks. She describes the Everglades as ‘beautiful but confounding.”. Here … Worse, as sea levels rise around Florida, increased salinity on the edges of the Everglades is killing the saw grass, setting off a cycle of damage to the sediment, allowing even more salty water farther inland. The experience can be transformative. In a series of trips to South Florida in the last year, I explored the interior of the River of Grass, the only subtropical wilderness in North America, plunging into microclimates and diminishing habitats, traversing slices of the Everglades National Park and its adjacent neighbor, Big Cypress National Preserve, by car, kayak, foot and even looking down from a small plane. SOUTH FLORIDA — Founding leaders of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan initiated a monumental project 20 years ago by gaining national recognition of the need for more freshwater to reach the southern portion of the Everglades and Florida Bay. 07/21/18. We hiked thigh-deep in cafe latte-colored water, slogging to explore the mysteries of the cypress domes. âThe grass stays. The Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir water reservation regulations, the completion of the S-333N water control structure, and the award of a contract for construction on the L-67A levee will improve water flow in the River of Grass. It’s a huge milestone in the restoration of the Everglades. Depending on time, I drove as deep into the saw grass void as I could, parked, got out and gazed up at tropical clouds racing unimpeded by tree or building. I am here to attest that it is possible for a non-Floridian to get acclimated to alligators. sometimes pulling ourselves through dense mangrove tunnels with our hands. Republican Congressman Brian Mast of Stuart says H.R. Tears for the Magnificent and Shrinking Everglades, a âRiver of Grassâ. âWhen I first came down, this water was clear, and I used to dip my hand in here and pull up a handful of sand and sea grass and find dozens of baby clams and tiny living shells,â he said. We got up close to them as they dozed dry and oblivious in the sun, alongside roads or paths. Since 1845, when Florida became a state, man has been refashioning the glades, chiefly, to dry, build on, farm and make money off the land, some of the most fertile in the world. Dredging, levee building, pumping water in and out, more than 2,100 miles of canals, 2,000 miles of levees and hundreds of floodgates, pump stations and other water-control structures, usually initiated with a blind zeal for progress and indifference to â or ignorance about â the fact that engineers were playing a game of Jenga on an interconnected fragile system. Florida Bay has not recovered from a great sea grass die-off in 2015. Humboldt never visited the Everglades, but it is surely one of the best places on earth to observe natureâs complex harmony up close. 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