The historic water flow of the Everglades once stretched from the headwaters of the Kissimmee River, through Lake Okeechobee, and on to Biscayne Bay and Florida Bay to the Florida Keys. This freshwater system formed the famed “River of Grass” that supported tremendous biodiversity and flocks of birds so numerous they would darken the skies in flight.
Throughout the early 20th century, development and massive water engineering and drainage projects reduced this subtropical wilderness to half its former size and reduced the wading bird population by 90%. Today, 68 species of Everglades plants and animals, including the Florida panther, American crocodile, wood stork, snail kite, and Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, are threatened or endangered.
NPCA is working to protect and restore the vast, wild areas of the Everglades by being a leading voice in restoration projects such as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) authorized by Congress in 2000. This plan is an unprecedented, multi-billion dollar undertaking to be implemented by the federal government in partnership with the state of Florida. The plan is designed to improve natural flow and water quality and will involve removing levees, filling canals, and reducing agricultural and urban runoff. Other projects developed before 2000 and since will also aid in restoring historic conditions of the greater Everglades ecosystem, like the Modified Water Deliveries Project for Everglades National Park, which includes bridging the Tamiami Trail.
National Parks directly affected by the Everglades ecosystem and CERP are:
- Big Cypress National Preserve
- Everglades National Park
- Biscayne National Park
- Dry Tortugas National Park
- Learn about the six key projects NPCA is working on to restore Everglades National Park.
- Learn more about the Sun Coast Regional Office and its programs.
- Learn more about NPCA's Great Waters program to help keep waterways healthy throughout our national parks.