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The Science of Restoring the Everglades

The Science of Restoring the Everglades

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Published by earthandlife
From the nation’s wetlands to the Missouri River to restoring the Everglades, no important water-related controversy has escaped the attention of the National Academies. Committees organized by the Water Science and Technology Board or the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology have produced many reports on these and other topics. Committee members are selected for the individual expertise, and the committee is balanced to represent various points of view. At a time when water resources management is one of the nation’s most complex endeavors, these reports provide thoughtful analysis and helpful direction to policymakers and stakeholders. This brochure highlights some of the most important scientific themes that have emerged from the reports to date on the restoration of the Everglades. With support from sponsors, the National Academies will likely continue in its science advisory role to the agencies working on restoration plans.
From the nation’s wetlands to the Missouri River to restoring the Everglades, no important water-related controversy has escaped the attention of the National Academies. Committees organized by the Water Science and Technology Board or the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology have produced many reports on these and other topics. Committee members are selected for the individual expertise, and the committee is balanced to represent various points of view. At a time when water resources management is one of the nation’s most complex endeavors, these reports provide thoughtful analysis and helpful direction to policymakers and stakeholders. This brochure highlights some of the most important scientific themes that have emerged from the reports to date on the restoration of the Everglades. With support from sponsors, the National Academies will likely continue in its science advisory role to the agencies working on restoration plans.

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categoriesTypes, Research, Science
Published by: earthandlife on May 24, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs

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03/19/2013

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T H E S C I E N C E O F
RESTORING THE EVERGLADES
H
IGHLIGHTS OF THE
N
 ATIONAL
 A 
CADEMIES
EPORTS ON
E
 VERGLADES
ESTORATION
 
orida’s Everglades,the splendid River of Grass,is like noother place on Earth.Shaped by the flow of slow-mov-ing water,its rich landscape of sawgrass ridges,sloughsand tree islands is home to alligators,many kinds of wading birds,and other plant and animal life.By themid-twentieth century,a vast network of canals and lev-ees,built to drain water for flood control,water supply,agriculture,and urban development,had profoundly altered the region’s wetlands and reduced the Everglades to half its original size.Today,the wading bird  population has sharply declined,and 68 plant and animal species arethreatened or endangered.Throughout the twentieth century,the Everglades epitomized the American conflict between economic development and environmental conservation.In recent years,the region has embraced the challenge of  protecting and restoring native species and ecosystems while still meet-ing human needs for space and natural resources.
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LIKE MANYLARGE ENGINEERING PROJECTS, therestoration of the Everglades is a daunting task. It isextremely complex for several reasons: first, theEverglades ecosystem is huge, stretching over18,000 square miles from the Kissimmee Riverwatershed to Florida Bay and the coral reefs (seeFigure 1); second, the restoration plan must attemptto balance the interests of many stakeholders; third,restoration goals must consider the complex andoften competing needs of different plant and animalspecies; fourth, the plan must take into accountunknown factors such as future climate change andurban population growth; finally, and maybe mostimportantly, there are competing visions of what willconstitute successful restoration.Since 1993, an unusual coalition of local, state, andfederal agencies, as well as non-government organi-zations, local tribes, and citizens, has been workingto reverse the damage to the Everglades. The effort isled by two organizations that know where the watergoes in South Florida—the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps), which built most of the canalsand levees in the Everglades, and the South FloridaWater Management District. In 1999, the Corpsissued its blueprint for the restoration effort, theComprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (theRestoration Plan). The plan’s primary goal is to "getthe water right"—that is, to deliver the right amountand quality of water to the right places at the righttimes. The plan proposes more than 50 major proj-ects to be constructed over an estimated 36 years ata cost of approximately $7.8 billion.
Figure 1.
Much bigger than just Everglades NationalPark, the greater Evergladesecosystem (or South Floridaecosystem*) extendssouth from the KissimmeeRiver watershed to LakeOkeechobee, through theremaining Everglades, andon to the waters of Florida Bayand the coral reefs.
*The South Florida ecosystem as legally defined in the Water Resources Development Act of 2000.

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