LandscapeIn 1905, former Florida Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward began a concerted effort to drain the Everglades to make the land suitable for agriculture and development. Large tracts of swamp were transformed into productive farmland and cities named Miami and Ft. Lauderdale began sprouting up along the coast.

As the population grew, so did the need to provide flood control to the new residents of South Florida. In 1948, the U.S. Congress authorized the Central and South Florida Project, which created the most effective water management system in the world. An extensive network of man-made canals, levees and water control structures channeled 1.7 billion gallons of water daily from the Everglades out into the ocean.

The loss of water changed the natural character of the marsh. As the water receded, so did the habitat for wading birds, fish and dozens of animals. Salt water flowed farther into the marsh from the ocean and pollution flowed in from neighboring farms and cities. Changes in water quality stifled the growth of native plants, allowed new plants to take root and fueled the growth of algae that worsened the loss of natural habitat. The cycle continued for the last half of the 1900s. As a result, the Everglades today is half the size it was a century ago.

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