The vast area of wetlands in south Florida is home to many struggling species such as the Florida Panther and the West Indian Manatee. The complex ecosystem has been considered a National Park since December 6th, 1947. (History & Culture) Since the 1800’s as much as half of the wetlands have been destroyed due to urban development and agriculture. (Brief History of the Everglades) The Everglades are not only important to the wildlife that lives in it, but to the people who live in southern Florida. The Everglades help prevent saltwater intrusion into the underground aquifer, and also are the greatest method of flood control available. When hurricanes or other natural disasters come through any part of Florida, Lake Okeechobee overflows and pollutes the surrounding areas. What is being done to restore what we have destroyed? CERP is on the job. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) is the largest environmental restoration effort in history. From its development in the 1990’s to its establishment in the new century in 2000, over 50 different important jobs have surfaced to complete the restoration project. (Growing Blue) Before South Florida was densely populated and before there were severe floods, the Everglades were considered a useless swamp. When Governor Napoleon Broward was elected in 1905, he began an extensive effort to drain the Everglades to make the land useable for agriculture and development. As the land dried up, more people immigrated to the southern coasts of Florida. In order to protect the new Floridians from the frequent and severe floods occurring, in 1948, the United States Congress authorized the Central and Southern Florida Project creating the world’s most effective water management system. The project was a success for human development by constructing man-made levees, canals, and water controlling structures. (Brief History of the Everglades) Today the system steals 1.7 billion gallons of water per day from the everglades. Thus beginning the degradation of the beautiful ecosystem. Florida’s economy grew exponentially as the biodiversity decreased at the same rate. During the pre-drainage era, the waters throughout the everglades were relatively the same depth. After the drainage was done, the depths have decreased by 250-400%. (McVoy and Saunders) The consequences taken in the past by the oblivious government officials has the ecosystem in south Florida in a pickle. The $10.5 billion effort known as the CERP will take roughly thirty years to complete. Just to purchase the land necessary to restore the wetlands will cost Floridians a billion dollars by itself. (McVoy and Saunders) The extensive and thorough project is a good investment to Florida’s economy. Florida is known for three tourist-attracting spots: theme parks, countless beaches, and the everglades. CERP has broken the more than 50 jobs into 10 jobs each. Each set of jobs is called a band. The first band on the list involves the primary stages needed in order to continue with the larger scale project. (Growing Blue) Taxpayers are expecting to see immediate changes to the wetlands within the first few years. It took much longer for the are to become the poor quality it is currently at, therefore, it will take the same amount of time if not longer to restore the area. Environmentalists are concerned about the specific endangered species that are indigenous to the everglades and cannot be found in any other places in the world. The Florida Panther is an example of a species currently at risk to extinction. Population growth will be the easiest and first way to tell the bands are working in nature’s favor. This predator needs prey, and its prey needs water.
The primary source of water the everglades receives is from rainfall. The pre-drainage everglades were fed from a long chain of rivers, lakes and tributaries. Water flowed