The Everglades was forever a flowing river of grass. Originating from springs north of Lake Kissimmee, the unimpeded spring-fed water flowed south to Florida Bay, and southwest into the Gulf of Mexico in a sheet of shallow, nutrient-rich water miles in width.
In the 1920’s, the Tamiami Trail was constructed. The road was the first to connect the Southwest Coast of Florida with Miami, creating an economic boon for the burgeoning cities of southeast Florida. However, that roadbed was essentially a dam, completely severing the historic southern flow of water from the springs of central Florida. The Everglades, now isolated to the south of the Tamiami Trail, was deprived of its life-blood flow of water from the north. The Everglades ecosystem had only the rain which fell on it for sustenance.
In 1947 Everglades National Park was created. It encompasses a large portion of the original everglades. One of the missions of the National park is to preserve and protect the natural resources of the park, “by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
In the last couple of decades, as the population of South Florida has exploded Everglades National Park has been struggling to get its share of clean water flowing through the park and into Florida Bay. In 2013 a one mile long bridge was constructed to replaced 1 mile of Tamiami Trail roadbed, finally allowing a significant amount of fresh water to flow south into Everglades National Park.
Finally this year a giant leap forward has been made in the same vein. In April 2016, the Legacy Florida Act was signed. This will allocate $200 million dollars annually toward Everglades Restoration Projects. And this year, or early next, another bridge will supplant a section of the Tamiami Trail, this one will be 2.6 miles in length, ultimately creating a roughly 3.6 mile natural opening providing Everglades National Park with a substantial portion of its historic water flow.
Finally, after over 100 years the water will flow!