Everglades Waterflow2017-08-08T01:31:49+00:00

EVERGLADES WATERFLOW

What’s the big deal? How is high water a problem in wetlands?

It’s about a broken promise and long-lasting consequences. At first, efforts to protect the Everglades were admirable — authorities assigned a bird warden and banned plume hunting as just a few laudable conservation measures in the early 20th century.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ famous The Everglades: River of Grass was published in 1947, serving as the inspiration for Gladesmen for years to come. The Everglades received a national park designation that same year.

Then in 1949, a line was drawn in the sand as people tried to balance nature versus expansion. Lawmakers and others said that half of the Everglades would be preserved forever and the other half would be used for development.

What could have been a tenable agreement meant to protect and preserve this national treasure has turned into a broken system. The decision to create the “East Coast buffer” zone for development meant manmade levees and barriers were installed to hold storm water in the Everglades. It didn’t work. Today, the Everglades is half the size it was 100 years ago.

Half. Think about how much habitat loss that is. Gladesmen work tirelessly to restore this habitat loss, raise awareness of how crucial it is to give habitat back to wildlife and find ways to help restore naturally-existing water levels. The part of the Everglades that was set aside for natural preservation has been slowly destroyed by the levees and canals.

As Gladesmen, we know this land as well as anyone. So while at a glance you might not see the negative impact, an expert eye knows the Everglades is in dire need of help.

High water is devastating because a natural wetland is designed for shallow depth of water. High water destroys that habitat.

We’ve already seen the sad, manmade consequences in recent history. In 1994, wildlife suffered from 18 months of extreme high water. Hundreds of animals died, and plants died as well. This is the reality we work every day to avoid.

A hundred years ago, you could trace the flow of water from the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee, followed by the Everglades marsh and Florida Bay flats, what the Department of Environmental Protection describes as “the ultimate destination of the pure sheet flow.” Flooding wasn’t an ongoing issue because we didn’t interfere with this beautiful, 11,000-square foot “River of Grass.”

How critical water levels are:

The highest points of the Everglades have small areas of land where deer roam, birds land and feed and panthers hunt, called Deer Islands. The current compartmentalized structure of the Everglades does not allow the water coming in to flow properly through the Everglades. This creates areas of extreme flooding, as well as areas that are completely lacking in water.

Just three feet of water at the highest points of the Everglades means:

  • Birds cannot eat or feed
  • Deer and other fur-bearing animals can’t rest or find food
  • Panthers cannot hunt or move around

Can you imagine the Everglades suffering through another period like it did in 1994? We don’t have to repeat history!

We can work together to get our quality of water and the water levels to optimum levels. If we establish the proper water level, the environment will take care of itself!