BOX 1-1

Geographic Terms

To minimize confusion, this box defines some key geographic terms used throughout this report.

  • The Everglades, the Everglades ecosystem, or the remnant Everglades ecosystem refers to the present areas of sawgrass, marl prairie, and other wetlands south of Lake Okeechobee (Figure 1-1b).

  • The original, historical, or pre-drainage Everglades refers to the areas of sawgrass, marl prairie, and other wetlands south of Lake Okeechobee that existed prior to the construction of drainage canals beginning in the late 1800s (Figure 1-1a).

  • The Everglades watershed is the drainage that encompasses the Everglades ecosystem but also includes the Kissimmee River watershed and other smaller watersheds north of Lake Okeechobee that ultimately supply water to the Everglades ecosystem.

  • The South Florida ecosystem (also known as the Greater Everglades Ecosystem; see Figure 1-2) extends from the headwaters of the Kissimmee River near Orlando through Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades into Florida Bay and ultimately the Florida Keys. The boundaries of the South Florida ecosystem are determined by the boundaries of the South Florida Water Management District, the southernmost of the state’s five water management districts, although they approximately delineate the boundaries of the South Florida watershed. This designation is important and is helpful to the restoration effort because, as many publications have made clear, taking a watershed approach to ecosystem restoration is likely to improve the results, especially when the ecosystem under consideration is as water dependent as the Everglades (NRC, 1999, 2004a).

The following represent legally defined geographic terms used in this report:

  • The Everglades Protection Area is defined in the Everglades Forever Act as comprising Water Conservation Areas (WCAs) 1 (the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge), 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B and Everglades National Park.

  • The natural system is legally defined in the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 (WRDA 2000) as all land and water managed by the federal government or the state within the South Florida ecosystem (see Figure 1-3). “The term ‘natural system’ includes (i) water conservation areas; (ii) sovereign submerged land; (iii) Everglades National Park; (iv) Biscayne National Park; (v) Big Cypress National Preserve; (vi) other Federal or State (including a political subdivision of a State) land that is designated and managed for conservation purposes; and (vii) any tribal land that is designated and managed for conservation purposes, as approved by the tribe” (WRDA 2000).

Many maps in this report include shorthand designations that use letters and numbers for man-made additions to the South Florida ecosystem. For example, canals are labeled C-#; levees and associated borrow canals as L-#; and structures, such as culverts, locks, pumps, spillways, control gates, and weirs, as S-#.

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