Recently, President Trump issued an Executive Order, Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Infrastructure, which seeks to improve our nation’s water infrastructure, including the critically important Florida Everglades.
The Executive Order (EO) promotes collaborative conservation by helping facilitate coordination between Federal Agencies on the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Plan (CREP) by way of the newly established federal Water Subcabinet. The Subcabinet seeks to assist in matters related to water storage and supply, water quality, restoration efforts, infrastructure, water-based transportation, and water forecasting.
Specifically, the EO directs federal agencies to work together with the goal of improving our nation’s water management to ensure a clean and sustainable supply of water, which is particularly important for the Florida Everglades. The Everglades ecosystem covers 16 counties and 164 cities in Florida with a $2 trillion economic impact. Unfortunately, due to extensive development, the Everglades ecosystem is now less than half of its original size. The remaining Everglades ecosystem is threatened with inconsistent water releases from Lake Okeechobee, which reaches capacity up to six times faster than it can be released to the south into the Everglades, resulting in much of the nutrient-laden water having to be sent to the east and west by way of the St. Lucie and the Caloosahatchee canals, respectively. Discharging too much water from Lake Okeechobee threatens high salinity dependent habitats on the east and west coasts and can result in toxic algal blooms, while low volume discharges to the south threatens the freshwater-dependent brackish habitat in the Everglades.
The significant, positive effect on both freshwater and estuarine habitats in South Florida by restoring the historic water flow through the Everglades will not only result in increased fish population abundance, but also better fishing opportunities for anglers.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation continues to work with our national and local partners in Florida in supporting a comprehensive solution to meet the water management demands of Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades, and the local residents.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?