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Why Should You Care About The Everglades? (Part 1)

The Florida Everglades has a history that extends back several centuries and in fact, humans inhabited the land thousands of years ago when the Everglades consisted of more than 5 million acres which extended from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay.

The Everglades is a subtropical wetland with significant biodiversity importance due to the wide variety of purposes of the ecosystems in the wetlands that provide the habitat for wildlife, plants, micro-organisms, and other animals. Although the Everglades was reduced in size during the early part of the 20th century to allow settlers to build homes and harvest crops, a lot of effort has been put forth to try and protect the remaining wetlands.

Prior to 2000, the government attempted to combine what was right for the Everglades with what was right for continued growth and development.  This early plan failed and millions of gallons of water drained away from the Everglades shrinking it drastically.  As the Eco-systems changed and wildlife became endangered, or worse extinct, the government reevaluated its initial plan and came up with a new one.  The landmark Everglades Restoration Act, which President Clinton signed on December 11, 2000, authorized $1.4 billion in federal spending to begin work on a handful of initial projects.  These projects were the birth of CERP (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan).

The CERP plan outlines how the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, along with state and local government and officials, will work to restore and protect what is left of the Everglades.  We will never be able to recapture any of the original 5,000,000 acres, but we can work to protect what we have left (A little under 3,000,000 acres remain).  The goal of CERP is to capture fresh water that now flows unused to the ocean and the gulf and redirect it to areas that need it most. The majority of the water will be devoted to environmental restoration, reviving a dying ecosystem. The remaining water will benefit cities and farmers by enhancing water supplies for the south Florida economy.