‘Everglades Conditions Catastrophic’: FWC Commissioner On High Water Woes

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EVERGLADES (CBSMiami) – South Florida has had an extremely soggy summer and the conditions in the Everglades due to all that rain are catastrophic, says a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission official. With inches or feet of water flooding dry land, there is simply no place for the animals to go.

At first glance, everything appears normal in the Everglades but that’s not the case when you take a closer look.

“The Everglades are in serious condition right now, actually catastrophic,” explained FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron. Bergeron was concerned after a wet June, but then it got even worse.

“We ended up September 10th with Irma and then another tropical storm that dumped another 5 inches on South Florida.”

To see the impact first hand, CBS4’s Dave Warren headed out to one of the many deer islands that dot the Everglades with Bergeron on Friday.

He witnessed first-hand the island “totally underwater.”

These tiny islands in the Everglades provide shelter for white-tailed deer, raccoons, and other wildlife including endangered turtles and snakes. But now many are underwater and the water is too deep for wading birds.

Sixty days is a critical time period for the animals in the Everglades during high water. After that, they can be severely impacted.

Bergeron says something needs to be done.

“It is so important in these conditions that all of our partners work together. More outflow than inflow.”

The South Florida Water Management District has been struggling since June to try and keep up but its been difficult as water rushes in faster than it can be moved out.  Steps to lower the water with drier weather will hopefully help but it’s not known whether it’ll be in time to save the islands. Tree Islands that die are called ghost islands and losing habitat can take centuries to rebuild.

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