The Florida Everglades
January 24, 2014
The Florida Everglades
The Florida Everglades are located in the southern portion of the state of Florida and compromise the southern half of a large watershed. This ecosystem begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River. This river discharges into the enormous, but shallow, Lake Okeechobee. The Everglades are shaped by water and fire and experience frequent flooding during the rainy season and drought during the dry season. The writer, Marjory Stone man Douglas, popularized the term "River of Grass", to describe the saw grass marshes.1 These marshes are part of a complex system of interdependent ecosystems that include cypress swamps, estuarine mangrove forests of the Ten Thousand Islands, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rock land, and the marine environment of Florida Bay.2
The first human habitation in this area dates back 15,000 years. Humans have affected the biochemical cycles in this ecosystem in very specific, mostly helpful ways. Canals were constructed throughout the first half of the 20th century. The hurricanes in the area prompted engineers to re-think the plan. In 1947, Congress formed the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, which built 1,400 miles of canals, levees, and water control devices. Large portions of the Everglades were transformed into farmland, with the primary crop being sugarcane.
The knowledge of the Florida Everglades ecosystem's structure and function helped to develop plans for its management and restoration. In the 1970's, national and international attention was given to this ecosystem. Restoration officially began in the 1980's with the removal of a canal that straightened the Kissimmee River. The water quality of Lake Okeechobee became the major concern during this restoration. The other major concern was to maintain the environment of the area. In 2000, a plan was approved by congress for the most expensive...
References: Everglades Restoration. (May 23, 2012). Retrieved from http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/everglades/
Everglades. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wild-Places/Everglades.aspx
Natural Features and Ecosystems. (January 03, 2014). Retrieved from http://www.nps.gov/ever/naturescience/naturalfeaturesandecosystems.htm
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