Boy did we screw up the Everglades.
"Progress" and all that.
In a well-written and thoughtful opinion released yesterday, Judge Carnes lays out the history of man's intervention in the region in two succinct paragraphs:
For centuries, a broad, shallow sheet of fresh water that covered most of South Florida flowed south from Lake Okeechobee to the Florida Bay. This phenomenon was the “river of grass” or Everglades, which supported unique and fragile flora and fauna. As so often happens with natural treasures, people sought to control and manipulate the Everglades for their own ends. After the State of Florida’s efforts to tame the Everglades failed, in 1948 the Army Corps of Engineers got involved.This opinion was a pleasure to read, even though the 11th waded into the always-tricky area of "legislative intent" to buttress its conclusions.
The Corps undertook the Central & Southern Florida Flood Project, which it hoped would control flooding, divert water away from developing areas, provide a source for irrigating crops, facilitate recreation, and “enhance” wildlife. See Miccosukee Tribe of Indians v. United States, 980 F. Supp. 448, 454 (S.D. Fla. 1997). In order to bend the water to its will, the Corps created thousands of miles of canals and levees supported by scores of pumps, gates, and dams. This massive plumbing project drained the northern portion of the original Everglades for agricultural use and diverted water into distinct, deeper Water Conservation Areas for controlled release into the southern part of the original area, which became Everglades National Park. There followed what the government artfully calls “unplanned environmental consequences." This case involves one of those consequences, which pits a sparrow against a hawk.
Back to the drawing board on this one, it seems.
(Dexter, your job is secure.)