Florida Power and Light (FPL) is attempting to swap a utility corridor it owns inside the 109,000 acre East Everglades Expansion Area (Everglades National Park) for a new corridor on the east side of the park – but still inside current park boundaries. If permitted, one of Florida’s most unique natural areas will gain a new industrial horizon consisting of 3 sets of powerlines carrying up to 500,000 volts of electricity across towers as high as 150 feet. The lines would connect proposed new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point to points north and are a part of FPL’s application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Although grave concerns regarding these reactors have been discussed on this list previously – the issue right now is not Turkey Point or south Florida’s energy future. The only issue NPS will be considering at this time are FPL’s power lines across Everglades National Park.
A map of the proposed “swap” can be found here:
A photo of existing powerlines heading north from Turkey Point (much smaller than the ones proposed for Everglades National Park) is here (photo by Matt Schwartz – feel free to reproduce with credit):
Potential consequences of the powerlines to the park could be enormous. They include: damage to sensitive wetlands due to construction of towers and maintenance roads; spread of exotic plant species on disturbed lands; impacts to federally listed endangered and threatened species including the Everglades snail kite, eastern indigo snake, wood stork, and Florida panther; likely increase in mortality of native and migratory birds due to collisions and electrocutions; and degradation of the public’s ability to enjoy a significant area of land already declared “wilderness eligible” by the NPS.
Of the 3 alternatives put forward by the National Park Service, South Florida Wildlands Association is strongly advocating the selection of ALTERNATIVE 3: ACQUISITION. As described in the NPS newsletter:
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