Everglades native retreats as sea levels rise faster than restoration, study says

 

A saltwater poison is threatening prairies of toothy sawgrass on the edges of the Everglades as sea levels rise with a warming planet.

The iconic fauna of Florida’s river of grass once thrived in a nourishing overflow from Lake Okeechobee, and is included in restoration efforts to undo some of man’s meddling in the state’s natural plumbing system.

But the multi-billion dollar plan didn’t consider the impacts of sea level rise, a problem revealed in a new study by Florida International University scientists who say rising oceans are outpacing restoration.

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“I’ve been using the phrase that we need to fight water with water, and that’s what we try and argue, that we need more freshwater to combat the saltwater,” said Rene Price, chairwoman of FIU’s Department of Earth and Environment and a co-author of the study. “Everyone knows sea levels are rising, but we wanted to see how water managers were combating it.”

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In 2000, Congress approved the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, or CERP. The approximately $13 billion project is trying to find the “right quantity, quality, timing and distribution” of freshwater that will most closely mimic Mother Nature.

According to the South Florida Natural Resources Center, more than 650 billion gallons of water per year once flowed south into Everglades National Park across what is now Tamiami Trail. The 100-mile road from Miami to the Gulf of Mexico is a barrier for water reaching the park and eventually Florida Bay.

Currently, center Director Robert Johnson said about…Read the full story about how humans tried to kill the Everglades, and the challenge now to save it in MyPalmBeachPost.com. 

Sawgrass is native to the Everglades ecosystem. Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Post

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