Everglades Illustrated: The power of seagrass

Last week’s 37th annual Everglades Coalition Conference has us thinking about the importance of a particular building block throughout the greater Everglades ecosystem: seagrass. During the conference, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava reminded us of an astounding fact: Florida wetlands, including mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows, are much more efficient at sequestering carbon than even rainforests — making them some of the most efficient natural carbon storage environments in the world and considerably boosting our natural resilience to the impacts of climate change. In Florida, seagrass benefits don’t just end there. Seagrasses provide critical nursery habitat and feeding grounds for countless fish and aquatic animal species. Years of unchecked pollution and algae blooms have caused mass die-off events [...]

2022-01-11T11:27:32-05:00January 11th, 2022|All Posts, Everglades Illustrated|

Everglades Illustrated: LOSOM must protect the estuaries

The Everglades is vast, and restoration is complex. We're breaking it down visually for you. Are Throwback Tuesdays a thing? We’re making them one today, as we take a look back at an image from 2016. The photo above was taken in a neighborhood canal off of the St. Lucie River during a time that is infamously remembered as the toxic summer of 2016. That summer, images like this one were not uncommon in the coastal community of Stuart, Florida — the east coast ground zero for Lake Okeechobee discharges. For those who lived through it, this picture brings to mind a particularly horrific smell. The guacamole-thick mats of blue-green algae emitted a stench so overwhelming that residents had trouble being outdoors. [...]

2021-11-09T12:25:55-05:00November 9th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated, LOSOM|

Everglades Illustrated: Florida’s sugarcane region has some of the smokiest air across America

Look at the map above. The data tracks the increasing prevalence of wildfire smoke across the nation. It’s no surprise to see parts of California and the Midwest are lit up in red, due to dangerous wildfires that tear annually through areas of dry vegetation. What stood out is the data represented in our own backyards in Florida. The data-mapping project from National Public Radio and Stanford University’s Environmental Change and Human Outcomes Lab found that parts of Palm Beach, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee counties recorded the worst smoke days in the United States — even higher than the wildfire-prone West Coast. That’s right — some of the most dangerous air in America is produced as a result of an [...]

2021-10-12T10:56:41-04:00October 12th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated, Sugarcane Burning|

Everglades Illustrated: Dangerous development threatens the Everglades

The map above tells the story of a looming threat to Biscayne Bay. Developers in Miami-Dade County are pushing to convert 794 acres of “farmland of unique importance” to 9 million square feet of industrial development. This green space sits outside the county’s Urban Development Boundary, and within Coastal High Hazard Area — which is “among the areas least suitable for urban development” due to storm surge vulnerabilities, according to county staff. Despite a scathing report by the County’s own planning and environmental staff about the dangers posed by the South Dade Technology & Logistics project, the Board of County Commissioners voted September 9 to transmit the proposal to the state for review. In a shocking display of one-sided politics, [...]

2021-09-14T14:13:30-04:00September 14th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated, Homestead Air Reserve Base|

Everglades Illustrated: The northern estuaries are stronger together

See the three southern outlets from Lake Okeechobee circled in red? Each of them represents an opportunity to remove harm from the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. This week the Army Corps of Engineers announced its goals for improving the foundation of a new plan that will govern releases from Lake Okeechobee for the next decade, called LOSOM. The “optimization” goals presented were the result of thousands of public comments submitted to the Corps by stakeholders across the state — including Friends of the Everglades supporters. The Corps aims to strike more regional balance throughout a system that has long catered to the powerful agricultural industry south of Lake Okeechobee. Though we viewed the foundational plan selected as an encouraging [...]

2021-08-10T12:06:18-04:00August 10th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated, LOSOM|

Everglades Illustrated: An industry exposed

  NASA satellite image of multiple sugarcane fires burning near Belle Glade, Florida, acquired January 5, 2021 See the plumes of smoke in the satellite image above? They mark actively burning sugarcane fields, a practice that’s been used for decades at the expense of exposed residents to make harvesting cheaper. The surrounding black squares show an expansive checkerboard of recently burned sugar fields in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Now imagine living in that area where skies regularly fill with dark smoke that causes eyes to sting and chests to tighten almost every day for six or more months of the year. In Glades communities, nestled south of Lake Okeechobee, that’s reality. Sugar companies set fire to cane fields spanning [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Documenting the discharges — by plane

https://youtu.be/m-7xLMGC2YI A bird's eye view of a crisis unfolding More than a 1000 feet in the air, a bright green pocket of blue-green algae is clearly visible inside the Port Mayaca Lock. It may not look like much, but it's enough to trigger PTSD for residents across Florida who've seen these views before. With many months of the rainy season still ahead, the familiar Florida algae crisis has already emerged with a vengeance — carpeting a Pahokee marina in a headline-grabbing outbreak, choking canals on the west coast, and even threatening water supply in Palm Beach County. It's not all bad. Watch the rest of this video and you'll see some breathtaking views from a perspective usually reserved for the [...]

2021-06-08T11:57:40-04:00June 8th, 2021|Everglades Illustrated|

Everglades Illustrated: Growing public health threat calls for bold action now.

The Everglades is vast, and restoration is complex. We're breaking it down visually for you. Growing public health threat requires bold action now. This photo could be a a glimpse into our future. The Lake Worth Waterkeeper captured the image of blue-green algae at the Lake Okeechobee Pahokee Marina on April 26, 2021 — a month shy of the official start to Florida's rainy season, and the same day that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection reported the microcystin concentration at the marina had reached 860 parts per billion — 107 times more toxic than the EPA recreational limit for safe human contact. Just five days later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the Lake Okeechobee blue-green algae bloom had [...]

Everglades Illustrated: An Everglades threat looms in Homestead

The Everglades is vast, and restoration is complex. We’re breaking it down visually for you. A development frenzy is gaining momentum near Homestead Air Reserve Base in southern Miami-Dade County — and it poses a direct threat to nearby Biscayne Bay. As you can see from the map above, the proposed South Dade Logistics and Technology District (marked with a red star) lies just west of Biscayne Bay, on 800 acres currently used as farmland. If that proposal wasn’t alarming enough, now a Miami-Dade County Commissioner is pushing to convert another 700 acres of agricultural land near the Homestead air base to industrial use. “We can have an industrial revolution in South Miami-Dade County,” Commissioner Kionne McGhee told the Miami Herald. With [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Toxic Summer Ahead?

The Everglades is vast, and restoration is complex. We're breaking it down visually for you. Above: South Florida Water Management District's Weekly Water Level Update map, issued 3-3-2021 Damaging discharges are flowing to the Caloosahatchee & St. Lucie Estuaries Take a look at the image above. It tells the story of an emerging crisis in the northern estuaries, as Lake Okeechobee looms high and the rainy season approaches. On Saturday, March 6, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased releases from Lake Okeechobee, sending 500 cubic feet per second (cfs) east from the St. Lucie Lock and maintaining releases of 2,000 cfs from the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam west of the lake. Releases are an attempt by the Corps [...]

2021-03-08T17:18:50-05:00March 9th, 2021|All Posts, Everglades Illustrated|

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