As Floridians like to say: “We live where you vacation,” but most people don’t know that one of the country’s favorite holiday destinations is under threat. Sea-level rise and climate change are already affecting Miami-Dade County. Fortunately, continued restoration efforts of the Florida Everglades will help impede these consequences.
Last month, the National Research Council released the report Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades. It illustrates the positive results of current restoration projects, but says that these efforts are not happening quickly enough and need to be hastened, especially to mitigate issues caused by rising sea levels. The Florida Everglades is considered one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet, home to many endangered species, including the Everglades Snail Kite and the elusive Florida panther.
The water flowing through the Everglades also provides South Floridians’ drinking water, Miami-Dade County being no exception. Essentially, the Everglades needs to be restored not just because it provides important habitat for wildlife, but also because its restoration will protect the drinking water that makes southern Florida habitable.
Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we give the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) all the support and funding it needs in order to save this integral environment. According to the report, since the restoration plan was authorized in 2000, only four of the 67 projects have been completed.
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Although CERP is expected to take several decades to complete, the plan is severely behind schedule, resulting in rapid habitat degradation and loss of diversity across the Everglades.
CERP will provide the freshwater flows needed to restore the ecosystem and recharge our aquifer. As a consequence of delaying Everglades Restoration, South Florida is standing by as fresh water supplies are increasingly threatened by salt water intrusion.
As a Miami Beach resident, I clearly see how important the efforts of CERP are, and how immediate action is needed. As most Miami Beach residents know, most side streets are often flooded even on sunny days, indicative of the rising sea levels.
Thus, as residents of South Florida, we must fight for the funding that these projects desperately need. If we want to continue to call this vacationland our home, the restoration efforts of the Everglades must not only continue, but also be expedited in order to save this ecosystem and protect our freshwater drinking supply.
Tyler Breault, intern, Florida Audubon Society, Miami Beach