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Student Guide | Cape Cod | Everglades | Los Angeles | Download PDF

Everglades:

Introduction

Reading

Focus Question

The Interested Parties

The Everglades - What You Need To Know

Restoring the Everglades - Add Water and Mix?

Geologic Background - Flat and Wet

Climate - What Does It Mean to be Subtropical?

Glossary

The Interested Parties:

AlligatorHere is an overview of the competing interests that affect the Everglades region. As your group works to answer the Focus Question, each person will take a role as an environmentalist, farmer, or developer.

Environmentalists
Environmentalists want to stop the destruction of the Everglades, an ecosystem which is quickly dying. Only one fifth of the water that reached the ecosystem at the turn of the century is getting to the Everglades today. Only 5 percent of the wading birds that used to nest there are still doing so. Agricultural runoff has severely altered vegetation, replacing saw grass with cattails, which crowd out algae, an important food source.

Agribusiness
South Florida farmers are some of the most productive in the Nation, producing everything from sugarcane, to lettuce, to tomatoes. To produce these crops, south Florida farmers use a large portion of the region's water. Irrigation of sugarcane and citrus dominates water use in the six counties that comprise the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Indian River Citrus Area in Florida. About 1 million acres are irrigated with more than 2 billion gallons of water per day.

Everglades farmers make a lot of money and employ a lot of people. Palm Beach County has the fifth largest farm income in the Nation. Twenty thousand people work in the Everglades Agri-cultural Area on 450,000 acres of land. Farmers plant the rich peat soil that is exposed when surface water is drained. (The Everglades sustains the Nation's largest sugarcane crop and second largest vegetable crop.) But, exposed to air, this soil decomposes, rapidly drying up and blowing away. Because the soil is exposed to this and, thus, is drier than it would normally be, peat is lost at the rate of between one-quarter and three-fourth inch per year.

In addition to transforming the flow of water, farming introduces runoff that contains phosphorus and nitrogen into the Everglades. This runoff has choked the Everglades' saw-grass prairies with cattails. In 1994, a sugar cane com-pany, which produces nearly one-third of Florida's sugar, was required to reduce phosphorus pollution in the water that drains from its lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area. The company also agreed to help build large artificial marshes to filter pollution that flows toward the Everglades National Park.

Urban developers
Developers want the human population to continue to expand in numbers and in the amount of space people take up. The population of Broward county alone has doubled in the last 20 years. (South Florida has one of the fastest growing populations in the U.S.) They also want to offer residents a high standard of living, which in Florida includes high domestic water consumption. The demand for water drains the aquifers below ground, while more and more pavement inhibits the land's ability to absorb water.

Developers also build to accommodate vacationers and retirees. In 1989 alone, 39 million people vacationed in south Florida. Twelve million arrive during the winter, the driest months of the year in south Florida.

Largest Population Growth
1980-1992
County Number
Los Angeles, CA
San Diego, CA
Maricopa, AZ
1,576,407
739,209
700,392
San Bernardino, CA
Riverside, CA
Harris, TX
Orange, CA
639,327
625,236
562,208
551,868
Clark, NV
Dade, FL
Tarrant, TX
Dallas, TX
382,546
382,463
359,239
356,976
Palm Beach, FL
Sacramento, CA
King, WA
Broward, FL
323,897
309,856
287,639
283,017
Fairfax, VA
Bexar, TX
Orange, FL
Santa Clara, CA
261,266
244,125
244,125
233,456
Gwinnett, GA
Hillsborough, FL
Alameda, CA
Montgomery, MD
224,947
211,613
202,193
201,969
Travis, TX
Fresno, CA
United States
193,586
190,992
28,535,337
How many Florida counties are among the 25 fastestgrowing counties in the United States? Which of these Florida counties are in the Everglades?
Largest Number of New Private Housing Units Authorized by Building Permits
1990-1992
County Number
Los Angeles, CA
Clark, NV
Maricopa, AZ
53,004
51,996
48,210
Harris, TX
Riverside, CA
King, WA
35,356
32,865
32,437
San Diego, CA
San Bernardino, CA
Dade, FL
29,694
27,310
26,692
Broward, FL
Dallas, TX
Palm Beach, FL
26,011
25,851
25,665
Orange, FL
Orange, CA
Cook, IL
25,521
24,359
23,540
Sacramento, CA
Franklin, OH
Oakland, MI
21,003
19,486
16,352
Mecklenburg, NC
Duval, FL
Pierce, WA
15,488
15,194
15,126
Tarrant, TX
Fresno, CA
Hillsborough, FL
14,993
14,711
14,682
Wake, NC
United States
14,533
3,154,493
Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties are permitting many new homes to be built in the Everglades region. What conclusion about people's impact on the environment can you draw from this fact?

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Student Guide | Cape Cod | Everglades | Los Angeles | Download PDF

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