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.
The Tamiami Trail, a 1920s road built to link Tampa and Miami, chokes the flow of much-needed freshwater through the historic heart of the Southern Everglades. Just over two years since groundbreaking, the second phase of the Tamiami Trail bridging project, which allows water to flow under the road, is on track to be completed by the end of 2018.
With many competing priorities for funding, Audubon works hard in Tallahassee and Washington to secure the funds needed for Everglades restoration. A restored River of Grass depends on strong and sustained appropriations each year to get projects from start to finish and avoid costly delays.
The Picayune Strand project was the first of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) components to begin construction. It is now close to becoming one of the first fully completed CERP projects.
The Kissimmee River Restoration project is tantalizingly close to completion. Once finished in 2020, more than 40 square miles of river floodplain will flood seasonally, and the river will meander again.
After six months of intense planning, the South Florida Water Management District approved the Tentatively Selected Plan for the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir project in March. The project remains on schedule.
The Kissimmee River Restoration project is nearly complete, and water managers report that it performed well during Hurricane Irma. Before restoration, the channelized Kissimmee River would flush water quickly into Lake Okeechobee, draining the surrounding floodplain.
The Western Everglades was at the center of extreme weather impacts in 2017. Unnaturally hot wildfires, like those experienced in the region this past spring, were followed by high summer rainfall and Hurricane Irma.