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Restoring the South Florida Wetlands

Show Summary - July 20, 2009

Guest: Bob DeGross

Bob DeGross (Ochopee, FL), Big Cypress National Preserve, FL. "Water Restoration in the Everglades."

The Big Cypress National Preserve was created in 1974 to help protect the Everglades and associated ecosystems. The ecosystem begins at a chain of lakes around Orlando and flows down the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee. This is a very wet and flat region that receives 60 inches of rain a year and no snow. Lake Okechobee does not have a natural river outlet but from the lake to the Florida Keys, an immense amount of water flows as a "river of grass" that includes the Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp.

The Everglades ecosystem experiences a seasonal draught that is made much worse by the system of canals constructed many years ago to channel runoff, create dry land for development, and provide water for the immense South Florida population centers. As a result, many of the region's magnificent wildlife species are threatened or endangered (flamingoes, bald eagles, scarlet ibises, key deer, Florida panthers, etc.).

There is also, lately, a problem with exotic species being released into the Everglades, such as Burmese pythons (let loose as unwanted pets).

Alligators are abundant and critical to the ecosystem because they create "gator holes" that can be the sole means of survival for some species during the dry season.

Categories: Bodies of Water, International Health Orgs, Outdoor Recreation