What means "buying the land"?
It means putting the flow of the "river of grass" -as much as still possible- the way it was. Leaving the flow unimpeded from lake Okeechobee to the Everglades, hopefully giving life again to the coral reefs south of the Everglades National Park.
Why to buy? Just for coral reefs instead of sugar cane?
It is a lot more important than that! Mostly since the 1930's the land around the lake -and all the way from Orlando- was sold to farmers and cattle ranchers. Normally that is not much of a problem, it has been done all over the USA. The problem is that fertilizer run-off from those farms carry large amounts of phosphorous, an element that promotes fast growth of algae bloom. Furthermore, Lake Okeechobee levies were built to withstand a Category 3 hurricane after a hurricane -in 1928- killed about 2000 people when it overflowed. This barrier around the lake impedes the regular flow of water to the Everglades, the US Army Corps of Engineers did not foresee any problem by withholding that water and drying up the Everglades. When the lake is overloaded they just release the water into two channels reaching the Atlantic Ocean in the east, and the Gulf of Mexico in the west.
In other words, one channel discharges into the St. Lucie River, and this river takes the water to the Indian River Lagoon, causing great damage to its estuaries, as decades of pictures from LANDSAT corroborate. The other channel takes its flow to the Caloosahatchee river, which floods the estuary in Tampa Bay, making a big ecological mess over there as well.
This cyclical flows are not natural, and cause not only the algae blooms that take the light and oxygen from the water and asphyxiate the sea-grass (which feeds a lot of creatures, including crabs, shrimp, and manatees). The other effect is to lower the salinity of the water. Many creatures (whose niche is adaption to the estuaries habitat) die when salinity gets to high or too low. Typically, 2% salinity is too low for most species in the estuaries.
Modified on: Monday August 15, 2016
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