Dear <<First Name>>,
The New Year already presents both opportunities for and threats to Florida’s environment. As storytellers and collaborators, the Florida Wildlife Corridor seek the best ways to support the many public and private conservation initiatives underway, as well as making strides towards our own aggressive goals of highlighting priority linkages in the Corridor and accelerating the pace of conservation by 10% each year.
The Everglades - truly an international treasure - continues to receive a lot of attention, and rightfully so. It provides drinking water for nearly 8 million Floridians. The watershed, which is twice the size of the state of New Jersey, expands into central Florida near Orlando. During the 2012 Expedition, the team spent 54 of the 100 days within the Everglades watershed. Public and private lands in the Everglades provide some of the best habitats for wildlife and many iconic species, such as the Florida panther and Florida black bear. Other species like salamanders, the Everglades Snail Kite, the Big Cypress Fox Squirrel, a bounty of butterfly varieties, and countless plant species also call the Everglades home.
Everglades Snail Kite Photo Courtesy of Audubon Florida
Years of ditching and draining, as well as urban development, have drastically altered the ecosystem. Restoring a healthy and functional system requires a big-picture, holistic, and strategic approach. Increased population growth means that coastal urban areas will encroach into wild and rural places, often resulting in the loss of valuable farms and ranches that enhance our food security and support rural economies. More Floridians also means that freshwater sources must go further to provide adequate water for people, wildlife, and natural systems.
Algae blooms in coastal estuaries and freshwater springs as well as seagrass die-offs in Florida Bay this summer, demonstrate the need for adequate spending and policies to protect Florida’s water resources. A recent proposal from State Senate President Joe Negron calls for nearly $2.4 Billion to create a reservoir to hold, treat and strategically release freshwater into the marshy Everglades. Appropriate delivery and quantity of clean freshwater into the southern Everglades will help to restore this treasure, but must be undertaken along with other conservation strategies.
Prudent land conservation, through partnerships with willing landowners in the headwaters of the Everglades, will secure connectivity of this system through central Florida, protecting a pathway for wildlife. Implementation of the full suite of restoration activities through state-federal partnerships, such as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), will also address the system as a whole.
Finally, increased funding for land and water conservation is needed to make consistent progress. You, the voters, overwhelming supported this sentiment via ballot amendment in 2014. When the Legislative session begins on March 6th, our elected officials have the opportunity to use the resulting funding to conserve and restore Florida’s waters, wildlife, and ways of life. Our organization will continue to collaborate with conservation leaders throughout the state to ensure that progress is made towards protecting our most precious wild places and we hope that you will support these important efforts with an investment in the Florida Wildlife Corridor!
Yours in conservation,
The Expedition team spent 54 days within the Everglades watershed during the 2012 voyage. Photo by Carlton Ward, Jr./Carlton Ward Photography