What You Can Do to Protect the Florida Everglades Ecosystem

A Brief History of the Everglades Ecosystem

The Everglades spans over 1.5 million acres, from Orlando to the Florida Keys. Not only does this Everglades National Park treasure provide daily water supply for millions of Floridians, but it also serves as an ecological hotspot for thousands of different species of wildlife, including over 68 different threatened or endangered species. It is vital to the health of South Florida’s ecosystems to preserve Everglades National Park.

Natural and Manmade Challenges Faced by the Everglades

The Everglades National Park faces natural strains year-round, such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and droughts. On top of these unavoidable stresses, there is a list of manmade threats as well; pollution, development, and drainage. Global warming, an issue of too much carbon dioxide in the air, is amplifying the effects of all of these threats combined, putting the Everglades and South Florida in danger.

In 2000, Congress authorized over 10.5 billion dollars to CERP – the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. The purpose of this 35+ year project is to restore, protect, and preserve South Florida’s vital ecosystem. This restoration plan will be the largest hydrologic restoration project the United States has ever undertaken. What can you do on an individual basis to help protect the Everglades? You can help by minimizing your contribution to harmful things like pollution and global warming.

Why Do We Need a Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan – Water Quality Reservoir, Protected Species, and More

The Everglades are recognized worldwide as a one-of-a-kind treasure trove of natural wilderness. A plan to restore the Everglades for future generations is crucial for several reasons. It’s helped shape the natural course of heritage, culture, and economy of Florida as well as the nation. Throughout the Everglades, you’ll see a unique mosaic of freshwater ponds, prairies, and sawgrass marshes that support unique plant and animal life.

The Everglades are brimming with life, common, threatened, and endangered. Parts of the Everglades, for example, house the extremely endangered Florida Panther. Everglades National Park and Florida work together to make a massive and biodiverse ecosystem. Other iconic species include the American Crocodile, Wood Stork, West Indian Manatee, and hundreds more.

Another reason we need a plan is because of the growing concern of the Burmese Python. No one is sure how the first python was discharged into the Everglades, but it’s speculated that a pet was released. This probably didn’t seem like a big issue in the beginning, but the pythons have, not so slowly, been upsetting the balance across the Everglades so that it has become a state and federal concern. The state of Florida no longer allows pythons as pets, and there are strict regulations for anyone wanting to bring one into the state. America’s Everglades face a crisis as certain fish and wildlife numbers have been going down at an alarming rate because of this invasive species.

Personal Contribution: Making a Difference

How can you help preserve the Everglades? There are many simple ways which we will go over now:

To prevent carbon dioxide, use your car less, reduce, reuse, recycle, change your lightbulbs, and keep your electronic devices off and unplugged when touring the Everglades. Plant a tree! Even one makes a good impact on purifying the environment.

Minimize your water usage by taking shorter showers, making sure each load of laundry is full, and go easy on watering your yard. Use less hot water, when able, because it uses more energy than cold.

The most simple step you can take? Don’t litter. Help keep our lands pure and beautiful by making sure you keep track of any trash you have.

Practical Steps to Protect the Everglades

Here are a few simple steps from Everglades Holiday Park to help minimize harmful impacts to the Everglades National Park, as well as the Earth:

  1. Use your car less. If you are able to walk or bike somewhere, it is healthier for you and causes absolutely no harm to the environment.
  2. Reduce, reuse, recycle! Recycling can save a few thousand pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
  3. Plant a tree. A single tree can help to absorb the harmful effects of carbon dioxide in the air. Every tree helps!
  4. Change Your lightbulbs. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  5. Protect our park by keeping your electronic devices off and unplugged when touring the Everglades. Even when you are not using them, they are emitting heat and using power, contributing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Airboat captains typically encourage no cell phone use during our Everglades adventures for distraction and safety purposes.
  6. Don’t litter. Littering releases toxic substances into the Earth’s soil and natural habitats and spreads to marine life and land animals. The health of these animals is critical to sustaining the vitality of the Everglades National Park. Not to mention, litter harms the water and the air around you.
  7. Use less hot water. Using hot water requires more energy; even using slightly colder water can minimize environmental effects.
  8. Tune up your car and properly inflate your tires. Better working cars use less gas mileage, which is less harmful to the environment.
  9. Go easy on your lawn. Local South Florida residents can help protect the Everglades by minimizing the use of pesticides and chemicals, which are absorbed into the groundwater and can harm the water and nature in the Everglades.
  10. Minimize water usage. Try to cut back on using water until you need to – shorter showers, full loads of laundry, and less wasted water during car washes can protect prime Florida water sources, allowing vegetation to easily flourish.

Use these simple tips to help Floridians protect Everglades National Park, and learn more about South Florida’s giant river of grass at Everglades Holiday Park.

Water Control – Reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area

The South Florida Water Management District is working hard on the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir Project. Its two main features are meant for runoff water south of Lake Okeechobee treatment wetland for water purification and a reservoir for water storage.

This is a massive and important step towards keeping our beloved Everglades clean.


Q: What are the primary threats to the Everglades ecosystem?

A: The three main concerns are lack of water control, introduced species that don’t belong in the delicate balance, and development encroaching on the lands.

Q: Why is clean water vital for the Florida Everglades?

A: Too much-polluted water is pumped to both coasts from Lake Okeechobee. At the same time, not enough freshwater flowss into the Everglades and Florida Bay. The imbalance generates outbreaks of unwanted algae and fouls Flirda’s beaches

Q: How has Lake Okeechobee influenced water flow in the Everglades?

A: Lake Okeechobee is shaped like a shallow bowl, and when it collects too much water from rain, it overflows. The natural flow of water leads to the Everglades and keeps it clean and replenished.

Q: Why are hurricanes such a significant concern for the Everglades’ wetlands and vegetation?

A: The Everglades are delicate. The vegetation acts as a buffer against these storms, providing shelter for wildlife and plants, but enough strength can strip the trees of their leaves and limbs, taking away this cover and suffocating the roots of trees with the debris.

Q: Is the Burmese python a threat to the natural balance of the Everglades system?

A: Very much so. The species is quickly overtaking the Everglades due to the lack of natural predators and abundance of food.

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