30 YEARS With A Singular Focus On America’s EVERGLADES by Eric Eikenberg, CEO, The Everglades Foundation
As we approach Everglades Day April 7, The Everglades Foundation is marking its 30th anniversary: 30 years of dedication to our mission to restore and
protect America’s Everglades through science, advocacy and education.
It all began in 1993 when two fishing buddies – Paul Tudor Jones II and the late George Barley – enraged over the demise of their beloved fishing grounds in Florida Bay, co-founded The Everglades Foundation. Three decades later, our organization is recognized as the leading voice for Everglades restoration. We championed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), whose 68 projects collectively represent the world’s largest ecosystem restoration project in history.
Significant milestones have marked the path to where we are today. Environmental benefits for the Everglades have been realized through a variety of efforts, including historic new rules for managing Lake Okeechobee, and the bridging of the Tamiami Trail, which removed a 100-year-old barrier to water flow into Everglades National Park. Picayune Strand, the 55,000-acre parcel in Collier County between Alligator Alley and the Tamiami Trail, has been restored and is providing habitat to a growing population of Florida panthers, black bears and other species. And just last month, the historic groundbreaking of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee signaled the turning of a new page in the decades-long effort to restore America’s Everglades.
Once completed, the 16-square-mile reservoir will store water until it can be moved into a 10-square mile stormwater treatment area that will remove excess nutrients from fertilizer runoff. Instead of being flushed east and west, polluting the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers, the water will be cleaned and safely sent south to hydrate the Everglades, recharge a drinking water aquifer and, ultimately, restore the freshwater balance to Florida Bay.
Together with other projects already underway, the EAA Reservoir will reduce the damaging discharge volume by 55%. The reduction of harmful algae blooms caused by Lake Okeechobee is critical to our water-based economy and our environment. It is a crucial component of Everglades restoration and will revive vanishing habitats for more than 70 federally threatened and endangered species, including the Florida panther and the American crocodile.
This is not about saving Florida’s Everglades, but America’s Everglades. Like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite and all of our treasured national parks, the Everglades belongs to all of us. All of us who cherish the Everglades believe that realistic – albeit ambitious – restoration plans will be finalized and funded at the state and federal levels. We’ve been advocating for this for 30 years – and we won’t stop now – for our water, our economy, our environment, and for future generations.
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