Florida Coastal Everglades LTER - History

The Everglades itself is also quite young, having been formed in the last 5000 years during the Holocene climate stabilization, as the southern Florida peninsula became steadily wetter. Human influence on the Everglades became significant only about 100 years ago. At that time, there were fewer than 2000 non-native people living in south Florida, while today there are over 6 million. In the intervening century, humans have dramatically altered the south Florida landscape. The remaining Everglades is only about half the size that it was in 1900. Over 2500 km of canals and levees, and hundreds of water control structures have been built to compartmentalize, drain, and manage the remaining natural system. At the same time, 95% of the 6 million people living in south Florida get their drinking water from the shallow Biscayne aquifer, which is recharged in near real time by the Everglades. That the Everglades provides this critical ecosystem service is, surprisingly, not well known in south Florida. A primary focus of Everglades Restoration (a 20 year, $8 billion rehabilitation based on a state and federal partnership) is to return the remaining Everglades to a healthy and stable state so that it can continue to provide this, and many other, ecosystem services. The FCE LTER Program is very much involved in this environmental rehabilitation effort, and will play an increasingly important role in Everglades’ science in the future.

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