They are proving much more difficult to restore than they were to nearly destroy. We drained the Everglades to encourage farming, ranching, and development and, in the process, destroyed the natural flow and unique fish and wildlife habitat. We turned bountiful Okeechobee from a lake into a manmade impoundment to prevent flooding and, in stabiizing water levels, killed aquatic vegetation, encouraged harmful algal blooms, and eliminated its natural flushing.
Now U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with private landowners, conservation groups, and others to develop a new national wildlife refuge and conservation area to "preserve the community's ranching heritage and conserve the headwaters and fish and wildlife of the Everglades."
Intent is to protect and improve water quality north of Lake Okeechobee, restore wetlands, and connect existing conservation lands and important wildlife corridors. About 150,000 acres in the Kississimmee Valley south of Orlando would be involved.