South Florida's Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)

What, Why, How And What Do We Do Now? A Five Series Blog

E. Allen Stewart III P.E. ----November 12, 2017

PREFACE

If you have Google Earth on your computer, type in “Lake Okeechobee” in the Search box, then press enter. Now look at the lake, and guide your eyes to the southern and southeastern shorelines. You will notice an expansive area, even larger than the lake, segmented in a series of rectangular plots. To me this area looks like something Picasso would have rejected in his early explorations into Cubism. Or, to use a more modern simile, it resembles a pixelated screen, like something you would expect when your cable signal is being disrupted.

 

This contiguous area attached to the “bottom edge” of Lake Okeechobee encompasses over 1,000 square miles—which as noted exceeds Lake Okeechobee (704 square miles). It is called the Everglades Agricultural Area or EAA and was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as directed by Congress (P.L. 80-858)  for the purpose of promoting and optimizing agricultural production within a region which previously represented 27% of the entire area of pre-drainage Everglades’ habitat. Its construction was included as part of what is called the Central and Southern Florida Project (C&SF), which was implemented in 1948. This project was explained within the bill as a “comprehensive plan for flood control and other purposes in central and southern Florida.” The intended beneficiaries were existing and proposed agricultural and development interests.  

Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)

The first time I saw the EAA from the air, I was so profoundly impacted that I quickly wrote down my thoughts, which I later included in one of my small self-published novels.

 

From the air, the symmetrical forms of human creations, so eagerly designed and constructed as representations of order and intellectual capacity, appear odd, almost inappropriate, when seen within the framework of the ancient order of successional processes. 

 

“They are as disturbing lesions upon an otherwise pleasant countenance, appearing as clumsy, ill-placed blotches upon a completed canvass, placed by an amateurish artist in an absurd attempt to improve upon a masterpiece.  An unbiased observer, without knowledge of human beings, might well assess these disruptions as flaws, as deleterious perturbations to the stability of the biological realities of the earth.  Conversely, it is often accepted by we humans that such creations represent improvements, and that we are intentional aberrations, which alone have been able to escape total control of the effective, but mindless developmental process associated with the earth’s life systems.

 

“While certain factions within our society have made it somewhat popular to critique our human species as some malevolent, evil organism, which, insensitive to these biological realities, exists as a contaminant to the otherwise pure forces and directives of nature, others believe we have risen, through the grace of God, above the primal influences of genetic directives and environmental forces.  However, in both cases, perhaps we should not be so quick to judge ourselves or the “disruptions” we create, as either misplacements or divine intellectual expressions, for it is undeniable that we, like all living things, find our genesis in these same biological realities.”[1]

 

Ever since its inception, the EAA has been controversial. Is it a blessing or a curse?

 

Participants in this controversy include interested and impacted individuals, non-governmental organizations (NGO), industrial and agricultural enterprises and trade organizations, activists, advocacy groups (including paid and volunteers), the media, academia, governmental entities, Native American tribes recognized by the U.S. Government and coalitions of traditional Aboriginal Indigenous People not recognized by the U.S. Government. Each has picked one of these two options—with perhaps some variability in their exuberance--and accordingly battle lines have been drawn.

 

The acrimony has typically been intense, and the exchange of facts, incorrectly applied facts, partial facts, and non-truths have confused the argument such that trust and objectivity have all but disappeared. And the conflict has been made uglier by the infiltration of money and the attendant political influence and the all too common purposeful distortion of science in favor of short-term pecuniary and political gains.

 

I am offering this series of five blogs over the next few weeks with the intent of stimulating critical thinking, with hope that this Gordian knot can be unraveled. The blogs will include a history followed by some unencumbered mental excursions, resulting in some suggested approaches to resolution. But the more important purpose is to encourage serious and meaningful dialogue among the stakeholders. And a critical component of this dialogue is agreement by all that any actions suggested or selected meet our obligations to both “ourselves and our posterity.”  

 

Before we begin, I must remind readers that neither I nor PASOP.org have received favors or money for these blogs, and that aside from some editing assistance, the direction and intent of the writing is solely mine.  Also, PASOP.org does not, nor is it registered to seek funds. Neither has PASOP.org allocated funds to any advocates, politicians, or others for purposes of supporting any specific position related to the EAA. Information presented is factual to the best of my knowledge, and if shown not to be factual or if information needs to be clarified in any manner to enhance veracity, then corrections, extensions and retractions will be submitted as appropriate in an open and timely manner—along with the offering of that rare and nearly extinct gesture known as the apology.  

 

[1] E. A. Stewart and S. Wiley, 2005, Reclothing the Emperor—Part 1 The Dissatisfaction ISBN1-4259-5235-6(e). AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana, USA