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|

Everglades Illustrated: Repeal M-CORES to protect Florida panthers

The Everglades is vast, and restoration is complex. We're breaking it down visually for you. *Rectangles indicate general study areas New toll road would cut through vital panther territory Last week, two South Florida lawmakers filed legislation to kill the construction of three controversial toll roads through rural Florida known as M-CORES. The proposed "Roads to Ruin," slated to span hundreds of miles from southern Georgia to Collier County, would carve directly through territory identified as critical for one of Florida's most iconic and elusive species: the Florida panther. Panther sightings identified above as orange dots by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission paint a grave picture for the big cats when overlaid with the three study areas being considered for construction. The new toll roads would span the heart of panther [...]

2021-02-09T16:56:38-05:00February 9th, 2021|All Posts, Everglades Illustrated, Wildlife Habitat|