News from the Columbia Climate School

What is the future of the Everglades?

At the beginning of April, Florida Governor Charlie Crist announced a dramatic change to the proposed plan to buy and restore a significant section of the Florida Everglades.  Originially, the plan was to purchase 180,000 acres of the Everglades that is currently farmed by the United States Sugar Corporation for $1.34 billion. This was actually the follow up plan to the original plan of purchasing United States Sugar for $1.7 billion and taking over all the land they currently own. The new plan has cut back dramatically to 72,500 acres for $530 million.  This huge cut in the area purchased is yet another effect of the current economic situation. The real question is what will happen to the Everglades now?

Image thanks to http://sofia.usgs.gov/
Image thanks to http://sofia.usgs.gov/

 What has been occuring is that United States Sugar has been producing large amount of sugar, and the water used to grow the sugar has disrupted water flow between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. This has changed the make up of the Everglades, and is causing the area to be unstable. Another threat to the Everglades is development. Florida has been booming in growth, with one of the highest growth rates in the nation. As more and more people enter the state, the more and more tempting purchasing the land and building condominiums and businesses is to developers.

The longer the state puts off buying the land, the more likely the possibility that the Everglades will be developed becomes. However, we do know it will be at least 10 years, as there is a stipulation that United States Sugar cannot take any other bids for at least a decade. We know that development is not an urgent issue, but what about the ecosystem? In ten years will it be too late for the Everglades? Currently, the future is unknown, and this change in the purchase and conserving of the lands has made its survival even more uncertain.

 

Correction: June 3, 2009. This article originally misspelled the Governor’s surname. He is Charlie Crist, not Christ. 

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Meaghan Daly
Meaghan Daly
14 years ago

I’m glad you picked this up, Jennifer. You’re right to ask whether this scaled down buyback will be enough. There are many people who don’t think it will be. The option to buy up more land in 10 years sounds like an appealing compromise for politicians who are under a great deal of pressure to reduce budgets in the face of economic hardship, but as you point out, 10 years from now might be too late to save the Everglades.

Also, the way in which the land will be bought up is problematic. There is a great deal of fragmentation, that is made worse by the reduction of land that will be purchased. You may want to look at the revised purchase available here: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/sfl-edge-sugar-land-map-0401,0,6852781.graphic.

The buyback deal won’t get final approval until September, so it will be important to keep on an eye on any further changes between now and then.

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13 years ago

[…] the Jordan River – the other 95% is diverted for municipal and industrial use. Water supply to the Everglades is drastically reduced due to sugar production. Even if one doesn’t care about the health of […]

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