New Restoration Plan Kicked Off on Earth Day

restorationThis past Earth Day, the Everglades received great news – a new bridge will be built to restore the flow of water flowing into Everglades National Park.

At the end of April, state and federal officials began work to remove part of the Tamiami Trail, which has dammed water going into the park for almost nine decades. The Tamiami Trail was opened in 1928 and was considered a great accomplishment in human engineering, according to the Everglades Foundation. The engineering of the Tamiami Project was a 13-year project that cost $8 million. Years ago, if water was high in the Everglades, the road was closed; in present day, water managers keep the water low around the low so high levels of traffic can go through with no issue. This is how and why the Tamiami Trail acts as a damn across the Everglades. According to the Everglades Foundation, the Everglades National Park only receives a portion of the annual southern water flow it’s supposed to, and it’s not receive most of its water in a historic way.

Has the Tamiami Trail truly hurt the Everglades? Well, it’s certainly transformed its ecology. The reduced water flow had led to lower fish reproduction, less wading-birds nesting sites, and damaged habitats of many endangered species that are unique to the Everglades area. Sawgrass marshes and tree islands have been compromised. With less fresh water flowing into the area, salt water is now seeping inland, which is endangering freshwater aquifer wells.

If the Tamiami Trail isn’t modified, the Everglades cannot and will not survive. In 2008, U.S. Congress approved the funds for an Everglades Skyway bridge to replace part of the Tamiami Trail.  In 2013, a one-mile bridge was completed; it cost $81 million. Now, work has begun to build a second bridge; this bridge will be 2.6 miles long and cost $144 million. An additional three miles to the bridge is also being planned.

It’s become extremely urgent in recent years to get the water flowing properly. A recent summer drought killed more than 25,000 acres of seagrass. John Adornato, a senior director with the National Parks Conservation Association, said “Sending water south is the only way we can hope to restore Everglades National Park and solve Florida’s water crisis.”

Every new bridge added will bring the Everglades back to the way it should be.

Explore the Everglades

The Everglades is a beautiful, natural wonder that has many years to go before full restoration is in place. Although it’s a large undertaking and price tag, these bridges needs to be built before the wetlands disappear before our very eyes. Airboat tours of the Everglades give visitors an up-close-and-personal view of the country’s national treasure. Call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click here to book a trip today!

Long-Lost Fort Harrell Found Again In The Everglades

painting of the Seminole Wars

An artist’s interpretation of the Seminole Wars.

The Seminole Wars was a series of three wars that were fought in the 1800’s between the American Army and the Native Americans who originally inhabited the area. The wars centered around land disputes – land that they the Native Americans felt was already theirs, land the American Army felt should belong to the newly formed United States. History tells us how this story ended, but little is known about the events that actually occurred during these wars.

The American Army built a series of forts throughout Southern Florida, areas where soldiers could rest and recuperate as well as stock and collect supplies. Many of these forts were destroyed during the wars, and others fell into ruin shortly afterwards. Many of these forts were simply lost to time and never seen or sought after again. Fort Harrell was one such fort that remained forgotten about until it was recently rediscovered by three local men in the Everglades.

Three amateur explorers and friends became fascinated by the story of Fort Harrell and set out on a quest to find it. Though their discovery has not yet been scientifically confirmed, they have found what appears to be the foundation for the long-lost fort, a structure last seen by the human eye in 1917 while road workers labored away on construction for the Tamiami Trail. The site is currently only accessible by boat, located deeply within the alligator-infested waters of the Everglades, but the three explorers dream of seeing the Tamiami Trail extended to accommodate tourists interested in seeing this piece of Florida history.

Everglades tours are a fantastic way for residents of and visitors to Southwest Florida to experience this history up close, while also observing Florida’s most wild creatures in their native habitats. Airboat rides with Captain Mitch are not only thrilling and fun, but informative and educational too.