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Palm Beach Post: Marshall Field: America's wetlands under threat; Protect Florida Everglades

Marshall Field V: Palm Beach Post

I’ve loved South Florida since I first set foot on Jupiter Island in 1957, and I’m always happy to share that enthusiasm with newcomers I meet. Along with warm greetings, I also give them some advice: If you want to make Florida your home, invest in restoring and protecting the Everglades. Our future depends on it.

With all the newcomers that Martin, Palm Beach, and other Florida counties have welcomed in the past few years, I’m taking this opportunity to share that advice more widely. If your window frames a view of ocean, inlet, or river waters, it’s easy to forget the Everglades. But America’s largest wetlands are critically important, and they are continuously under threat.

The Everglades’ importance starts at the most basic level of life – they are the source of clean drinking water to more than nine million people in South Florida. The mangroves, seagrass beds, and peat soils also capture large amounts of carbon. The wetlands are also home to close to 2,000 species of plants and animals. More than a century of attempts to drain the swamp have left it shrunken and vulnerable; all these functions are threatened when saltwater intrudes.

This has been a milestone year for Everglades restoration, with groundbreaking on the massive Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir, designed to clean water from Lake Okeechobee before releasing it into the Everglades, restoring the historic southward flow of the River of Grass. It will also reduce releases of Lake Okeechobee waters into the St. Lucie Estuary and Lake Worth Lagoon, where phosphates from agricultural and development runoff have been blamed for deadly algae blooms.

At the center of this turnaround is The Everglades Foundation, a nonprofit started by two fishing buddies 30 years ago and headquartered south of Miami. By combining scientific research, nonpartisan advocacy, and education, it has played a key role in the passage of legislation to restore the Everglades, using millions in private, philanthropic donations to help unlock billions of dollars in federal and state funding for what is now the largest environmental project in the world. I am proud to serve on the board.

Read full piece on Palm Beach Post.


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