The Everglades (USA)
The Everglades is the largest subtropical wetland in the United States. It has been designated an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, in recognition of its significance to all the people of the world. However, the Everglades have undergone radical changes in both water flow and water quality over the years as the population in the state of Florida has exploded and agricultural lands have increased significantly during the past century. As a result the Florida Everglades, a peat based fen have been significantly reduced in size due to massive water drainage programs to convert these areas mainly to agriculture lands or urban areas.Together the US government and the state of Florida have spent several billion dollars to restore the water supply and ecohydrology for the remaining 50% of the Everglades, which includes native Seminole Indian Reservations. Both governments face enormous social-economic and political difficulties regarding the future allocation of water for the Everglades as the demand for water for agriculture and urban areas grows. This chapter compares and contrasts the past and current ecological conditions in the marshes, outlines the hydrologic issues facing these wetlands today as well as reviews some of the proposed solutions.
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