The Everglades National Park is the largest sub-tropical wilderness in the United States. And now, a bit more of this wetland region is protected from development and agriculture, thanks to an initiative by the state of Florida.
The Everglades “swampland” is home to numerous rare and endangered species including the American crocodile and the Florida panther. While the land may not seem to be all that valuable, the marshland provides amazing ecosystem services – wetlands have the capability to “cleanse” waste waters, act like sponges and absorb excess (flood) waters, are nesting grounds for birds, turtles, amphibians and many other creatures, and the list goes on!
Over 35% of the original Everglades wetlands have been taken over by agriculture or development, and much of the remainder is water deprived by irrigation schemes to supply sugar plantations and citrus fields. But now, under a plan initiated in 2000 by the state government of Florida, a large chunk of the wetlands will be purchased back from US Sugar Corp, one of the largest privately held US agricultural firms. On this purchase alone, the state will invest $1.7 billion in purchasing over 187,000 acres of Everglades land. The long-range plan is for the state to make a total investment of $7.8 billion to restore and protect the Everglades. Read the full news release….