Audubon has worked for over a century to protect and restore America's Everglades. Famous for its abundance of bird life, the Everglades has faced many challenges. From the murder of Audubon Warden Guy Bradley by plume hunters as he fought to protect some of the Everglades’ iconic species, to the nearly devastating changes from the 20th Century efforts to ditch, dike, and drain the watershed for development and agriculture, Audubon has led an unprecedented ecological intervention.
The most ambitious ecosystem restoration plan ever attempted is underway to provide the River of Grass with clean freshwater in the right place at the right time. Audubon's work to restore the Everglades is focused on implementing the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and other restoration projects to achieve ecological benefits and restore the characteristic abundance of wildlife.
Our science and policy staff works throughout the ecosystem to ensure that sound science underpins plans for restoration and that projects stay focused on increasing target bird populations as a measure of success. The Audubon Florida state office and Florida’s 45 chapters work with other partners and local, state and federal decision makers to build widespread support for this effort.
Here are some of the overall goals of Audubon's Everglades work:
Restore freshwater flows to Florida Bay through Everglades National Park to improve the conditions for the Roseate Spoonbill and other wading birds by reversing the effects of harmful flood control and water supply projects.
Improve the hydrology of the Northern Everglades while improving the quality of water entering Lake Okeechobee, using the Southern Bald Eagle as an indicator of progress toward reaching these goals.
Manage Lake Okeechobee in a way that balances the needs of consumptive users and the environment and reduce the pollutants flowing south from Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades Agricultural Area. Restore flows through the Water Conservation Areas that connect Lake Okeechobee and Everglades National Park using the Everglade Snail Kite, Roseate Spoonbill, and other wading birds as indicator species.
Protect and restore the watershed of Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, the Big Cypress National Preserve and surrounding areas in the Western Everglades. Restoration and conservation activities in this area, which is a key part of the native habitat for the Wood Stork, can be measured by that species’ population in the region.
One of Audubon Florida’s greatest contributions for the Everglades is our research and monitoring that provides information about some of the most important issues related to the health of the ecosystem.
Florida’s greatest lake was in the news this year for all the wrong reasons. Record phosphorus inflows, persistent harmful blue-green algal blooms, high water levels, and harmful estuary releases inundated Lake Okeechobee and the downstream ecosystems.
Over the summer, Audubon’s Western Everglades Research Center helped collect data on fish, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates in the Picayune Strand Restoration Project. These wetland fauna tell scientists and project managers how restoration is going. Picayune Strand was the very first Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) project to be started back in 2007.
With the support of Audubon members, the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Reservoir is getting closer to breaking ground after significant victories in Tallahassee and Washington. This top Everglades priority will clean, store, and move water south of Lake Okeechobee- restoring the historic freshwater flows through the parched Greater Everglades Ecosystem and into Florida Bay.
Harmful algae blooms have captured national attention and elicit quick “solutions” to prevent the blue-green algae slime fouling our coasts. Some continue to place the blame of algae blooms on the shoulders of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by falsely claiming that holding more water in Lake Okeechobee could prevent or end our algae crisis.
According to the annual South Florida Wading Bird Report, 2017 produced some of the highest nest counts in the Everglades in a decade. The success was characterized by hydro-patterns mimicking historic, pre-drainage conditions in some parts of the Everglades.