HISTORY & CULTURE

The Florida Everglades, one of the natural wonders of the world is in danger due to extremely high water levels. Help us keep the history and culture of this natural wonder preserved.

An Overview.

In 1949 our for-fathers drew a line. They said inside this line will be preserved forever and outside will be drained for agriculture use and safety & welfare to the general public.

Years ago before we compartmentalized the system with levees, pump stations & roads we had a natural flow from the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee onto the river of grass continuing on into Florida Bay.

Now we face several continuing issues with high water because we are pumping water from the area of the Everglades our for-fathers chose to drain onto
the area our for-fathers chose to save with half the area to store it with the same amount of rain we had a hundred years ago.

A wetland NOT a reservoir.

It is crucial to understand that a natural wetland has a shallow depth of water, compatible with the ecology, environment & wildlife. A reservoir has a higher water depth and is not compatible with the ecology, environment or the wildlife of the Florida Everglades.

The important thing to realize is that a high water event created by and act of God is natural. The weak die and the strong survive. When the duration of high water extends past a 30-60 day period it becomes a man made event that is not natural. High water in long durations is sudden death to a wetland environment, ecology and to the wildlife that lives there.

De-Compartmentalizing the Everglades
In order to save the Everglades we must “decompartmentalize” the system. The Tamiami Trail cuts straight through the heart of the Everglades. The north side of the trail is drowning from too much water while the south side of the Trail; Everglades National Park & Florida Bay are impacted by lack of water.

The Florida Everglades is one of the natural wonders of the world. Most people don’t even realize that Everglades holds most of our drinking water. The day we destroy it our quality of life will change drastically. Please join me on my quest to save this remarkable place.

– Alligator Ron Bergeron

Extreme High Water in the Everglades

The Problems with High Water

Historically the Everglades flowed as a shallow bed of water from the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee onto the River Of Grass and then into Florida Bay.

Ever since the Everglades were compartmentalized there has been a re-occurring issue with unnaturally high water levels. The main reasoning for this is because we are pumping water onto the area our for-fathers chose to save from the area they chose to drain with half the area to store it and the same amount rain we had a 100 years ago. A 100 year act of God is natural where water levels rise for 30-60 days and the weak die an the strong survive. It turns into a man made event when the period of high water extends past the 60 day mark.

High water in long durations is sudden death to the environment, the ecology and the wildlife that lives there. It is impossible for a panther to survive in 3 feet of water.

Deer Islands which are found at the highest topographical area of the Everglades serve as the main refuge for fur bearing animals. Once these island become submerged there is no refuge for the fur bearing animals to survive.

Extreme High Water in 1994

Extreme high water in extended durations created a massacre of wildlife.

In 1994 a combination of unusual rain and a 100 year act of God compounded with the inflow of water from urban areas and agricultural lands inundated the Everglades with 3-4 feet of water. All the deer islands which are refuge for the fur bearing animals where completely submerged. The duration of the high water was extended beyond an act of God (30-60 days) and turned into an 18 month man made event. The extended duration of high water drown about 90% of the fur bearing animals that called the Everglades home.

Keys to Fixing the Problem

De-compartmentalization is the key to Everglades Restoration.

The main key to Everglades Restoration is to decompartmentalize the system and address quality & quantity of water issues to where there is a natural flow, equalization of water levels, shared adversity and impacts globally.

The Tamiami Trail cuts straight through the heart of the Everglades. Ideally water should flow through existing infrastructure & future bridges. It is imperative that the south side of the trail which has multiple culverts and four S-12 structures have maintenance easements and a spreader swale that will relieve back pressure and allow water to flow freely and overflow into the lowest topographical elevation. This will improve water flow and allow
water to seek a better distribution into slews where it flowed naturally before the road was built. With these improvements we will be able to improve
sheet flow in a more natural distribution. Removing the old Tamiami Trail will also improve water flow and distribution.

Federal and State funded projects have built a 1 mile bride with several more to be built in the future along the Tamiami Trail to increase the flow of water into Everglades National Park & Florida Bay.

Everglades Restoration is a 30 year project. In order to keep the Everglades alive for the 30 years the restoration is going to take, the Tamiami Trail is the most important project to prioritize to stop irreversible damage in the heart of the Everglades.

Ron Bergeron explains his view on Everglades Preservation

What’s Happening Now

High water in long durations is sudden death to the Everglades

The Florida Everglades is experiencing extremely high water. Deer Islands, which provide refuge for all fur bearing animals are dangerously close, within 1 to 2 inches of being completely underwater. Once the deer islands become completely submerged there is a 30-60 day grace period before there will be a massacre of wildlife. It is imperative that all agencies Federal, State and Local work together to move the water south into Everglades National Park and then onto Florida Bay before the 60 days are up.

In 2008, the Everglades faced a similar situation when Tropical Storm Fay dumped more than 20 inches of water in 2 days. Through cooperation with several agencies, federal, state and local we were able to set up an “Emergency Policy” where we were able to deviate from normal regulations.

The Everglades and the wildlife that lived there were in extreme danger, we had to move a very large quantity of water, and move it quickly.

With the full cooperation from all agencies we were able to lower water levels 12 inches in 30 days. Never passing the 60 day mark. It was a great success story. Thousands of Everglades Wildlife survived. It just goes to show how important it is to understand that the problem is QUANTITY of water in LONG DURATIONS.

Everglades Restoration is still a very long way from completion. We must come up with solutions in the meantime to stop irreversible damage first. High water in long durations is sudden death to not only the wildlife but also the environment and ecology.

The Everglades is supposed to be a very shallow bed of slow moving water. When water levels rise and don’t recede in a reasonable time frame the environment changes. Wading birds do not have 3 foot legs, it is impossible for them to stand and feed in the water when they can’t touch the bottom, just as it is impossible for a panther to live in 3 foot water.

De-compartmentalization and quality of water is the key to Everglades Restoration. If we can send a man a man to the moon in a rocket ship we should be able to save our environment. The day we destroy it our quality of life will change dramatically.

“Camps” which are built on Deer Islands also serve as refuge for fur bearing animals. Most are within an inch of being completely submerged.