Human Impacts

Citrus trees being removed for development

Our trip began with a journey by train to West Palm Beach. The cars were full, and we are confident that we significantly reduced the carbon footprint of the trip by taking the train. We spent two days in Palm Beach County looking at urban areas on the Atlantic Ridge, parts of the Everglades that have been drained for development or agriculture, and other parts diked off for water treatment or storage. We also visited the South Florida Water Management District Headquarters and several massive water management and treatment projects. We enjoyed sweet tangerines and sugar cane, but we also saw a citrus industry besieged by greenings disease, sugar cane fields that have lost six feet of topsoil, and environmental restoration projects that move water with massive pumps and fossil fuel.

Stan Bronson shows students sugar cane grown in the rich peat soils in the "Everglades Agricultural Area" south of Lake Okeechobee.  This area once was the heart of the everglades but has been drained and cropped, primarily with cane, for over fifty years

Soil loss in the agricultural area is dramatically illustrated by the concrete pole, imbedded in bedrock, and originally flush with the surface.  The peat, formed in the original everglades oxidizes and is lost when drained and used for agriculture.  Two thirds of the original soil is gone from this area







Grassy Waters Preserve was once part of the continuous Everglades wetlands, Now 20 square miles are walled off and water levels are maintained to maximize water supply for West Palm Beach and adjacent cities

A pump station for one of the massive storm water treatment areas (STAs).  Water is pumped into the STA and allowed to slowly migrate south, mimicking the natural flow in the original evergladesPumps used to move water into the STA.  The engineering of pumps, isolated wetlands, dikes and canals are all constructed to facilitate removal of nutrients from water destined for the Everglades








Mike and Will relax in a club car

John Catherine and Mike enjoy breakfast in Jonathan Dickinson State parkStan Bronson of the Florida Earth Foundation gave us a tour of the Callery-Judge grove.  One of Florida's largest, this citrus grove is beset by greening's disease, and is in the process of being redeveloped as a residential area