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Forever Everglades?

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Laura Silver/NPR



From the Army Corps of Engineers "Waters of Destiny"

As much as I love the outdoors, I never thought much about the Everglades. I thought of South Florida as a haven for retirees, strip malls, backyard canals and little else. But last spring, I visited the national park as part of an environmental fellowship for journalists. I experienced my first cypress dome and saw tropical flowers growing from trees.

It's a miracle there's any of it left. Maps of the Everglades past, present and future water flow shows the creep of suburban development and the retreat of the endless "river of grass." After a deadly hurricane in 1926, farmers and builders began calling for control of the entire Everglades water system. The Army Corps of Engineers worked to tame Mother Nature, documenting some of its efforts in a 1950s promo film, Waters of Destiny.

This week, U.S. Sugar announced its plan to sell 175,000 acres to the state of Florida. "We're embarking on perhaps the largest restoration project on the planet," ecologist Nick Aumen told us today. "It's an opportunity to reclaim agricultural land that was once Everglades."

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