Rain dilemma may be result of too much development

Cape Sable seaside sparrow in the Florida Everglades

By Drew Martin
July 13, 2017
Palm Beach Post

POINT OF VIEW: Rain dilemma may be result of too much development

In The Palm Beach Post story, “Water can flow into endangered sparrow territory,” (June 29), discussing the seaside sparrow versus flooding north of the Tamiami Trail, it was suggested that only two solutions existed for reducing flooding: either the protection of the deer in the conservation area or protecting the endangered cape sable seaside sparrow, pitting them against each other resulting in flooding of the conservation area.

The story did not present the underlying causes that are leading to this flooding. It is the result of development policies impacting excess water, which is leaving us with only bad choices. This is the result of our constant filling in of wetlands, and the dredging of creeks and rivers, tuning them into free flowing canals, among the other things.

Recent attempts to change the zoning restrictions to open up the Agricultural Reserve to more homes — by removing existing preserves and permitting preserves north of the Ag Reserve to be used as preserve land rather than the 60 percent preserve requirement in the Ag Reserve which now stands — will change flooding patterns. By making all of these changes, we alter to a great extent how water moves naturally across the land.

Roads have also caused the blocking of important and necessary fresh water flows. One of these roads is Tamiami Trail. This road was built almost 100 years ago when people did not understand the importance of letting fresh water flow into the Everglades, Biscayne and Florida Bay.

We have drained the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) south of Lake Okeechobee. After the deadly 1928 hurricane, the lake had a permanent berm built around it. We are taking away the open lands that provide the space to hold the flood waters.

If the GL Homes proposal were approved, it would move all the of the preserves out of the Ag Reserve by using preserved land in other tiers of the county to meet preserve requirements. This would contribute to the problem. The Ag Reserve would no longer provide a buffer to the Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge. It would no longer provide a place to hold flood waters or to recharge the aquifer. It would no longer be the winter vegetable provider for the eastern United States. It would become another crowded urban area with all the urban difficulties. Not the refuge that many who purchased there sought. And these flood waters from the Ag Reserve will then contribute to the dilemma of flooding the conservation area north of the Tamiami Trail by adding even more flood waters.


Editor’s note: Drew Martin is conservation chair for the Loxahatchee Group of the Sierra Club.