The south Florida ecosystem is one of the most threatened ecosystems in the Nation. The greatest impacts on the ecosystems may have resulted from the construction of a complex canal and levee system to control flooding and supply freshwater. This system has drained over half of the Everglades and altered the flow of freshwater into Florida Bay. Without enough standing water, the ecosystem supports half as much aquatic life, thus the Everglades can no longer feed the storks, alligators, and other animals that once flourished. Many people believe the lack of water and the change in how and when it flows are the causes for a declining population of wading birds and a collapse of nesting activities, and major changes in plant communities as "weedy" species, such as cattails, invade the wetlands.
Restoring the Everglades begins with returning its water. Plans are being developed to reestablish the natural hydrology of the south Florida ecosystem so that water patterns in parts of the historic Everglades more closely resemble those that existed about 150 years ago, before significant human intervention.
A second major restoration effort involves removing nutrients from agricultural waste water. In 1994, the State legislature mandated a project that would construct artificial marshes around the agricultural area to filter phosphorus from the water. The third restoration effort is removal of non-native plants that crowd out indigenous species and reduce wildlife habitat.
No one knows how well the restoration efforts will work.
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