Time Running Out to Comment on Everglades Management Plan

Spoonbills are among the species whose future depends on a healthy Everglades National Park.

Less than two weeks remain for you to comment on the proposed changes to the management plan for Everglades National Park. This document, which addresses everything from managing wilderness to boat use in the park, will guide on-the-ground decisions in Everglades for the next 15 to 20 years.

The debate so far has been somewhat contentious, as one proposal being considered would limit powerboating in parts of the park. Part of the package also tries to address the future of the East Everglades Expansion Area and how it should be managed.

The plan also will address activities that could impact manatees, an endangered species, and delicate beds of sea grass, which are key to the health and ecology of Florida Bay.

On the recreation side of things, Alternative D would allow for a 99-mile-long waterway set aside for paddlers. It also calls for the creation of a 106,000-acre wilderness in the East Everglades Expansion Area. This proposal, understandably, is not embraced by everyone, as this area has been used for airboat tours of the park. Under Alternative D, airboat permits issued after 1989 would be phased out. Additionally, three commercial airboat tour companies would be bought out by the Park Service.

While this might seem a direct blow at tourism in the park, the upside of restricting airboats in this area would be healthier fisheries and paddling concessions that would enable visitors to get an up-close view of the park without the noise and smell of engines. It also would allow for construction of the Tamiami Trail Skyway, an elevated road that would run 11 miles and benefit the ecosystem by improving water flows through the park and into Florida Bay, preventing road kills, and decreasing habitat fragmentation.

To comment on the management plan alternatives, head over to this page. For a few more details of the plan, check out the park's page on the process.

Comments must be received by midnight local time on Tuesday, July 31.

Comments

I was raised in Florida and I have seen so much of thats states natural resources be exploited for money. Big Sugar did the worst to South Florida.Then development came and started eating away at the Everglades.Boating with motors that kill manatees and racing through quiet and pristine areas run out the wildlife.The canals of South Florida are filled with boaters who don't care about anyone or anything except their good time.The everglades provides way too many things for our enviroment not to mention food for several levels of living things.Please stop the unnecessary intrusin into our native waters.

Robert, I agree with you 100%.I grew up on the east coast in Melbourne,and saw Florida as it really was,"beautiful".Too much population now,and it is out of control.Too bad...

Growing up in N.J. and now living on the left coast I've seen to much of nature taken for monetary gains. I feel that if people can't hike or paddle ( in this case ) to enjoy the park without the use of power boats maybe the should stay home and watch it on the nature channel. The sky way sounds like it would be beneficial to the everglades.