What You Can Do to Protect the Florida Everglades Ecosystem
The Everglades spans over 1.5 million acres, from Orlando to the Florida Keys. Not only does this national treasure provide daily water supply for millions of Floridians, 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 and protect the Everglades.
The Everglades faces natural strains year-round, such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and droughts. On top of these unavoidable stresses, there are 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.
Here are a few simple steps from Everglades Holiday Park to help minimize harmful impacts to the Everglades, as well as the Earth:
- 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.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle! Recycling can save a few thousand pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
- Plant a tree. A single tree can help to absorb the harmful effects of carbon dioxide in the air. Every tree helps!
- Change Your lightbulbs. Replacing one regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb will save 150 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
- Protect the Everglades 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 Everglades airboat tours, for distraction and safety purposes.
- Don’t litter. Littering releases toxic substances into 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. Not to mention, litter harms the water and the air around you.
- Use less hot water. Using hot water requires more energy; even using slightly colder water can minimize environmental effects.
- Tune up your car and properly inflate your tires. Better working cars use less gas mileage, which is less harmful on the environment.
- 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.
- 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 the Everglades, and learn more about South Florida’s giant river of grass at Everglades Holiday Park.