A grant of nearly $150,000 from the Everglades Foundation will help the National Park Service pay for the cost of an environmental assessment of canals that are harming the ecosystem of Cape Sable.
Everglades National Park staff say that back in the 1920s, "several canals were dredged to drain the cape's interior marshes for agriculture and development. Today, salt water from tidal flow enters the fresh water marshes, resulting in their complete collapse. As these marshes are destroyed, the nutrients stored in the soil are released and threaten to trigger algae blooms in Florida Bay. Algae blooms destroy bay habitats that are important to threatened species, recreational fish, and other plants and animals that depend on the bay for survival."
Environmental destruction in Cape Sable contributes to ecosystem damage in Florida Bay and the Florida Keys, and impacts the economy by harming the fisheries and recreation sectors, the park notes. Part of the remedy is plugging the canals to prevent the inflow of salt water and the outflow of freshwater, the staff adds.
The Park Service is moving forward to address the damage to the ecosystem caused by the canals. Everglades Foundation scientists are providing expertise in addition to the Foundation's financial contribution.
“Nearly 100 years ago, the decision was made to destroy much of Florida’s natural ecosystem by dredging. Cape Sable has suffered enormously and the damage threatens Florida Bay. We are grateful that the National Park Service is taking the lead in the effort to restore this vital part of America’s Everglades, and protect Florida Bay which is so important to the economy of south Florida,” said Eric Eikenberg, Everglades Foundation CEO.
Bob Krumenaker, the acting superintendent for the park, added that, "Restoring a functioning freshwater ecosystem on Cape Sable will not only improve the water quality in Florida Bay, but will also improve the Everglades' resistance against sea level rise. We are grateful to the Everglades Foundation for the grant that allows this important project to move forward."
The environmental assessment is expected to be completed in about 18 months.