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Everglades Benefits From Much Needed Rain Relief

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Alligators and wading birds are forced to share space in the dry Everglades.  (Source: South Florida Water Management District)

Alligators and wading birds are forced to share space in the dry Everglades. (Source: South Florida Water Management District)

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EVERGLADES (CBS4) – Days of rain across South Florida have helped improve extremely dry conditions in the Everglades. Conditions have improved so much due to the recent rainfall that motorized vehicles are once again permitted in certain areas north of Alligator Alley.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, motorized vehicles, airboats and motorcycles are once again allowed in Holey Land and Rotenberger wildlife management areas and northern portions of the Everglades and Francis S. Taylor wildlife management area.

The FWC implemented the motorized vehicle ban in the spring due to the bone-dry conditions.

Back in March, CBS4’s Ted Scouten visited the area and went out on an airboat with the Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue to see the drought conditions. Three months later, it was worse. The area was so dry they couldn’t even take the airboats out to revisit the same spot.

Now, there’s finally some improvement.

CBS4’s Jorge Estevez went on an airboat tour out of Everglades Holiday Park on Thursday where he saw some of the slight improvements first-hand.

“There was no water there. It was solid mud. You could walk out there for miles for miles,” explained Rick Reda of Everglades Holiday Park. “In fact, you can see the mud underneath the surface, now under about a foot of water. It’s better but some of the damage may have already been done.”

The recent rain is good news for wildlife as well. During the drought, alligators and birds swarmed to man-made canals because there was no water anywhere else and their usual homes in the Sawgrass dried up. The animals were so close together, the larger alligators ate other animals at a faster rate to survive.

“And after the alligators got done eating most of the birds they resulted in eating the smaller alligators,” said Reda.

While the rain is great for the environment, it’s not good for business.

“We are sitting here waiting to go out,” said Reda. “It makes getting around a two person sport and it paralyzes outdoor cafes across South Florida. It keeps people from going to the beach and our business relies on that so it is a drag.”

The rain, however, is necessary for the bigger picture which is the Everglades, where life cannot go on unless the rain brings it much needed relief.

CLICK HERE for a Everglades water depth map.

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