Adapt To Climate Change
During the 20th century, several canals were dug to drain the freshwater marsh of Cape Sable. Over the past century, these canals-in tandem with sea level rise-brought pronounced change to the once exclusively freshwater environment. In an effort to stop the intrusion of salt water to Cape Sable, the park has plugged some of the canals. The most recent technology was implemented in 2011 with hopes to increase resilience from sea level rise as a result of climate change.
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) is a multibillion dollar project authorized by Congress in the year 2000. Since then, the effort has increasingly been viewed as south Florida's preeminent adaptation strategy against climate change. Expected to take about forty years to complete and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District, CERP aspires to increase freshwater storage, improve water quality, and re-establish the natural water flow through the greater Everglades ecosystem. If successful, these efforts will help protect subterranean aquifers from salt water intrusion, delay the impacts of sea level rise along the coast, and buy precious time for wildlife to deal with their changing environment.
Image credit to the Army Corps of Engineers
There are two recent restoration projects that will improve water flow in Everglades National Park. The first is the C-111 canal pump stations to the east of the park. The C-111 canal has drained water from the Park into Florida Bay for decades. Now, a pump station redirects water from the C-111 canal to a detention area that helps prevent the loss of water from Taylor Slough and the eastern portion of the park.
The second is the L-29 canal, levee, and one mile bridge on Tamiami Trail. The canal and levee just north of Tamiami trail have stored water and provided urban flood protection for decades. However, the canal, levee, and Tamiami Trail road have blocked water from flowing south into Everglades National Park. This reduction in natural water flow, and negative impact on the park, is addressed by raising a one mile portion of Tamiami Trail so that water can flow freely into the park without damaging the road.
During the 1950's, a visitor center, lodge, marina, and campground was constructed at Flamingo. These facilities provided services to visitors for many years, but were heavily damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005. What was left of the buildings was removed and, therefore, some visitor services were lost. The park is making an effort to provide similar visitor services again while being mindful of potential impacts from hurricanes and climate change in the future.
To minimize the risk of future loss, the park is experimenting with a combination of both elevated and semi-permanent structures in the redevelopment of Flamingo. A prototype "Ecotent" was unveiled on December 19, 2012 for use during the winter season and to illicit feedback from visitors. When in use, the tent rests on a raised wooden platform and will be disassembled and stored to avoid damage during the hurricane season. This prototype allows Flamingo to increase visitor services and rebuild in a sustainable manner.