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Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States (2001)

Chapter: 10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape

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Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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10

Transformation of the South Florida Landscape

William D. Solecki

Montclair State University

Robert T. Walker

Michigan State University

This chapter describes the relationship between expansion of the human system and changes in land use in the South Florida region of the United States. The actual study area comprises the seven southernmost counties in Florida: Broward, Collier, Dade, Hendry, Lee, Monroe, and Palm Beach (see Figure 10-1).

Human interventions in South Florida's natural systems have been dramatic, with notable effects on the quality of life. Since 1900, 11,027 square kilometers of natural land in the study region have been shifted to agricultural and urban uses in connection with federal, state, and private efforts to provide drainage and flood control. This land represents about 41 percent of the total study area, which covers some 27,000 square kilometers.

The shifts in land use occurred in stages, beginning in the late nineteenth century. Historically, this chapter looks at five distinct periods: pre-1900, 1900–1930, 1930–1950, 1950–1970, and 1970 to the present. Each period is characterized by a different set of human–environment interactions, along with differing relationships among population growth, consumption, and land use change.

The interactions among these elements are examined in several ways. First, we look closely at the nature of the human–environment interactions within each period and the social and physical drivers effecting transformations in them (see Merchant, 1990—the general discussion of ecological transformations—and Solecki et al., 2000). Second, we illustrate how each time period set the stage for the next phase of development by presenting certain constraints and possibilities. Finally, empirical evidence

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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FIGURE 10-1 Counties and major cities, South and Central Florida.




of these changes and transformations are derived from an examination of the amount and rate of land use change throughout the century.

The discussion in this chapter is based generally on the concept of land use coupling, presented as a functional relationship between an agricultural hinterland and the urban markets for foodstuffs (Walker, 1998). When an agricultural region supplies only markets in nearby urban settlements—that is, the region constitutes a closed market for agricultural production—the regional land use system, including both agricultural and urban activities, is said to be coupled. Alternatively, when the agricultural sector produces for markets outside the region, the system is said to be decoupled. As decoupling took place in South Florida, the pattern of

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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population demands on the land and land use transformation changed. This switch is fundamental to understanding the interactions between population and land use in the region.

The chapter begins with a physical description of the study region, followed by a description of the evolution of land use in South Florida over the twentieth century. In doing so, it notes the ecological implications of changes in land use and, because drainage and flood control levees have been instrumental in enabling changes in land cover, describes the state's drainage activities, as well as the initial stages of federal intervention in flood control. This historical exposition is followed by a section on the empirical evidence of the changes in land use in South Florida. Specifically, it examines the impacts of the changing regional economy and certain infrastructure on land use. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the role of institutions and markets in land use.

SOUTH FLORIDA: A PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION

The South Florida study area is located on a low-relief limestone peninsula that lies largely at the southern extremity of North America in the humid subtropical climatic zone. The region has a mild winter climate, with January temperatures ranging from 11° to 23°C (mean 18°C), and a warm summer climate, with August temperatures ranging from 22° to 33°C (mean 28°C). Rainfall averages 1,400 millimeters a year. During the dry season from November to April, the average rainfall is less than 60 millimeters a month; during the rainy season from June to September, the rainfall averages over 200 millimeters a month. The study area is subject to frequent episodic events—tropical and winter storms (including hurricanes), droughts, flooding, and hard freezes (Duever et al., 1994).

The South Florida region has an extended growing season. Most years the area has no freezing temperatures and enjoys a growing season of more than 320 days. Although crops could be grown throughout the year, the summer heat and humidity are very stressful to most agricultural plants and reduce yields. In addition, plant diseases and weed control are far more serious in the summer than in the winter (Snyder and Davidson, 1994).

The Everglades

The natural hydrologic system before the initiation of government-sponsored drainage projects was extensive. A hydrologic conduit connected central Florida, just south of present-day Orlando, to the mangrove reaches of Florida Bay, gateway to the tropical Florida Keys (see Figure 10-2). Water flowing through the Kissimmee River was impounded by Lake Okeechobee until breaching its low banks, from where it contin

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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FIGURE 10-2 Historic Everglades watershed.




ued south through interminable reaches of saw grass and deepwater sloughs, freshening the high-saline waters of Florida Bay upon discharge to the tidewater.

The terrain of the South Florida hydrologic system is barely more than a few meters above sea level and has virtually no perceptible local relief. It slopes very gently south from Lake Okeechobee—that is, only 3–6 centimeters per kilometer over the 145 kilometers to Florida Bay at the tip of the peninsula. The lake regularly overflowed its southern banks, resulting in a slow “sheetflow” of water roughly 50 kilometers wide. It passed to the west of the Atlantic coastal “ridge” (less than 10 meters in elevation) in a north–south direction through Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade Counties. This area of slowly moving water is known as the Everglades, although the term is also often used as a catchall to refer to the region's natural systems. The Everglades is composed of limestone bedrock cov-

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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ered with calcitic mud and (in the north of the system) by peat and muck several meters thick. The freshwater that flows in rivers and streams and as a shallow sheet across the gently sloping landscape is the unifying force and sustaining element of the system. Approximately three-fourths of the study site lies within the Everglades watershed. The rest lies to the east of the Atlantic coastal ridge and in the west drain to the Gulf of Mexico (see Craig, 1991; Davis and Odgen, 1994; Lodge, 1994).

Changes in Land Use

Land use in South Florida has changed significantly since 1900. At the turn of the century almost all land in the region was in a natural or near-natural state. However, Native Americans and nineteenth-century Anglo-American hunting and grazing did modify the ecosystem in a few areas and eliminated certain species such as birds with extensive plumage ( Figure 10-3). By 1953 more than 80 percent of the land remained in a relatively pristine condition ( Figure 10-4), but by 1973 land use in the region had changed markedly ( Figure 10-5). In 1988, urban land made up 13.8 percent of the land area; agricultural land (plantations and cropland) made up 21.4 percent ( Figure 10-6). Over the past several decades, the proportion of agricultural land in the region



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FIGURE 10-3 Land cover, South Florida, 1900. SOURCE: Center for Wetlands, University of Florida.


Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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Page 242

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FIGURE 10-4 Land cover, South Florida, 1953. SOURCE: Center for Wetlands, University of Florida.




has remained steady, but that devoted to urban land uses, such as residential, industrial, and commercial, has increased substantially.

The ecological impacts of this massive change in land use have been significant. The extensive Everglades marsh, built through peat depositions over the past 5,000 years (Gleason and Stone, 1994) and once covering about 12,000 square kilometers, was reduced by 50 percent in the twentieth century, to its present territory of 6,000 square kilometers. The

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
×

Page 243

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FIGURE 10-5 Land cover, South Florida, 1973. SOURCE: Center for Wetlands, University of Florida.




Everglades wetland, which makes up the noncoastal regions of the study counties, originally comprised seven physiographic landscapes; they have been reduced to four. The original landscapes were: the swamp forest (600 square kilometers), the saw grass plains (2,380 square kilometers), the slough/tree island/saw grass mosaic (3,110 square kilometers), the saw grass-dominated mosaic (1,790 square kilometers), the peripheral wet prairies (1,170 square kilometers), the coastal cypress strand (120 square kilometers), and the southern marl-forming marshes (2,490 square kilometers)—see Davis et al. (1994) and Myers and Ewel (1991). The 600 square kilometers of swamp forest once found just south of Lake Okeechobee in northwestern Palm Beach County vanished early with

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
×

Page 244

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FIGURE 10-6 Land cover, South Florida, 1988. SOURCE: Center for Wetlands, University of Florida.




agricultural development. Since then, the peripheral wet prairies and the coastal cypress strand have disappeared or have been reduced to scattered remnants because of urban expansion from the eastern coastal ridge. The monospecific saw grass plains once found just south of the swamp forest (mostly in western Palm Beach and Broward counties) have given way to sugarcane and are now a mere 25 percent of their former size. The remaining landscapes (marl-forming marshes and two types of saw grass mosaic) largely retained their original size, but they have felt the effects of changed hydroperiod and eutrophication. Finally, the pine forest that once covered the eastern coastal ridge has largely disappeared; only one patch remains, preserved within the boundaries of Everglades National Park.

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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Page 245

In the Everglades several factors have seriously reduced the nesting populations of wading birds, long an aesthetic symbol of the Everglades wetland and a good indicator of environmental conditions (Ogden, 1994; Robertson and Frederick, 1994). These factors are: reduced water flow, a shortened hydroperiod in high-elevation marshes, a diminished discharge to coastal estuaries, and a loss of permanent standing water in the deeper central sloughs. It was originally thought that nesting birds in the southern Everglades maintained populations on the order of 1 million into the 1930s. Ogden (1994), however, estimated that the peak population for that period was between 180,000 and 245,000 birds (in 1933–1934). He also estimated a maximum of 50,000 for 1976, after drainage, indicating an overall decline of between 75 and 80 percent for aggregate populations of the great egret, tri-colored heron, snowy egret, white ibis, and wood stork.

Environmental changes have not been limited to obvious and marked reductions in animal populations. Of particular current concern is the worsening water quality; phosphorus concentrations in waters flowing directly from agricultural areas to the central and northern Everglades have increased by an order of magnitude. Predrainage concentrations of phosphorus in surface waters were at the limit of detection, on the order of 0.01 milligram per liter. Today, eutrophication has brought phosphorus amounts to between 0.15 and 0.20 milligrams per liter in the agricultural surface waters discharging to the water conservation areas (Davis, 1994). As a result, cattail marshes have spread extensively, replacing saw grass. This environmental impact opened the door to the federal suit filed against the state of Florida in 1988, charging that the state had failed to properly enforce federal water quality protection laws (DeWitt, 1994).

HUMAN INTERVENTION AND ECOLOGICAL CHANGE IN SOUTH FLORIDA

The history of South Florida reveals how the region has developed and become increasingly linked with nonlocal institutions and markets. Particularly important has been the rapid and complete integration of the region's emerging economy with external interests—for example, U.S. northern winter food markets, tourism, and now increasingly trade and financial services. Indeed, since the onset of regional development at the turn of the century, land use decoupling has increased in South Florida (Walker and Solecki, 2000).

Key Drivers of Changes in Land Use

Rapid population growth has been a major component of the decoupling process. The population of South Florida grew from just a few thousand in 1900 to more than 4.6 million in 1990 (see Table 10-1). But

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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TABLE 10-1 Population Growth, Density, Number of Households, and Percent Urban, South Florida, 1930–1990

1930

1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

Population (thousands)

Region

49.8

429

760

1,620

2,440

3,600

4,650

Florida

1,470

1,900

2,770

4,950

6,790

9,750

12,900

Population density (persons per hectare)

Region

0.09

0.16

0.28

0.60

0.90

1.33

1.71

Florida

0.10

0.14

0.20

0.35

0.48

0.69

0.92

United States

0.16

0.17

0.19

0.19

0.22

0.24

0.32

Number of households (thousands)

Region

69

NA

237

531

844

1,410

1,830

Percent urban a

Region

77.7

76.3

86.5

91.0

94.9

96.1

95.8

Florida

51.7

55.1

65.5

73.9

80.5

82.6

84.8

United States

56.2

56.5

64.0

69.9

73.5

74.0

75.2

a “Urban” encompasses territory, persons, and housing units in: (1) places of 2,500 or more persons incorporated as cities, villages, boroughs, and towns but excluding the rural portions of “extended cities”; (2) census-designated places of 2,500 or more persons; (3) other territory, incorporated or unincorporated, including areas designated as urban.

SOURCE: Census of Population, U.S. Census Bureau.

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
×

Page 247

population growth did not occur evenly throughout the region. Rapid, large-scale population growth first took place in the southeastern counties—Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach—and only more recently accelerated in the other counties.

During the early decades of the twentieth century, the southeastern counties grew at rates of more than 100 percent per decade, reflecting the growth of local tourism and agriculture-related industries. The rural population grew as well, but the most significant growth came in the urban sector, particularly around Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and the Palm Beaches. After a slowdown during the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II, rapid population growth continued in the late 1940s, driven increasingly by the tourism industry, the influx of retirees, and the development of urban-based industries more generally. During that period, population growth accelerated in the western coastal areas, including Lee and Collier counties. Meanwhile, the growth rates of the interior sections of these counties and the east coast counties, as well as of landlocked Hendry County, remained extremely low. This condition created a significant population density gradient: coastal sites had densities of well over 1,500 persons per square kilometer, while interior sites had densities of only one to five persons per square kilometer. Population growth, although at a slower rate, continued to the end of the century, stemming almost entirely from in-migration to the region, especially from the Midwest and Northeast of the United States and, internationally, from the Caribbean Basin ( Table 10-2).

While factors of regional development, such as population growth, are an important factor driving changes in land use in South Florida, other forces that drive the rate of change at particular sites within the region are influential as well. In this context, sets of other institutional and societal factors become significant (see Solecki, 1997; Walker et al., 1997). These factors include land ownership issues such as public versus private; natural hazards such as hurricanes, droughts, and winter freezes;

TABLE 10-2 In-migration, South Florida, 1960–1990 (thousands)

1960

1970

1980

1990

In-migration within Florida

69

110

172

232

In-migration other states

416

437

647

676

In-migration international

41

123

146

221

In-migration total a

526

670

965

1129

In-migration total as percent of population

32.4

27.4

26.8

24.3

NOTE: Figures based on residence at previous mid-decade. Migration parameters changed several times during the study period. Data are not an estimate of net migration.

a Total includes domestic (within Florida and other states) and international in-migration.

SOURCE: Census of Population, U.S. Census Bureau.

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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urban social problems such as crime, poverty, and racism; development coalitions such as northern U.S. investors with governments such as the state of Florida; and the location of infrastructure such as canals, levees, and transportation corridors. These factors are covered implicitly or explicitly in the rest of this chapter.

Approximately half of the South Florida region—the entire central core—is under public ownership (see Figure 10-7). Thus the amount of land available for development has been limited, affecting the overall pattern of development. For example, westward agricultural and urban expansion in the Atlantic coastal zone has been limited to approximately 20-35 kilometers. Moreover, because the region is a low-lying wetland,

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FIGURE 10-7 Public lands, South Florida, 1988. SOURCE: South Florida Water Management District, 1988.


Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
×

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any development has required a significant capital investment in draining the land, protecting against floods, and building railroads and roads through the swamps.

Any historical description of the South Florida region would not be complete without mentioning another important driver of change in the region—natural hazards such as droughts, floods, hurricanes, and winter freezes. South Florida is highly vulnerable to the violent meteorological events characteristic of the Caribbean subtropical climate. The history of South Florida has been punctuated, for example, by the freezes of 1895 and 1989; especially violent hurricanes in 1926, 1928, and 1992 (Andrew); and the 1960–1961 drought.

While not the direct cause of extensive changes in land use, natural hazards have often spurred local and state officials to undertake hazard mitigation planning, which itself requires the relocation of people or industry, or the construction of infrastructure to prevent exposure to future events. Throughout the twentieth century, for example, citrus growers moved their operations ever southward into the Everglades region to escape the threat of freezes (Winsberg, 1991). On the coast, the massive eastern perimeter levee was constructed in the late 1940s and early 1950s in part to protect coastal communities from future floods. These and other examples are described more fully in the sections that follow.

Pre-1900: Frontier Settlement

South Florida was one of the last frontiers in the eastern United States. When Florida became a U.S. state in 1845, few nonnative inhabitants lived south of Lake Okeechobee and the entire population of Florida was less than 80,000. Through the late nineteenth century, most of the native and nonnative inhabitants (people of African or European descent) lived off of subsistence agriculture and resource extraction (hunting, fishing, logging). In the 1880s, however, small-scale, export-oriented agricultural activities began to take shape (USDA, 1884). Producers began to ship pineapples, sugar, and oranges to northern U.S. markets.

During this period, agriculture began to encroach on the region's wetland. In the agriculture sector, early state boosters envisioned reproducing the vital Caribbean sugar industry in Florida and creating a lucrative tropical fruit agriculture (Smith, 1884), but actual investments and changes in the landscape did not begin until the late 1800s. The impetus to development throughout the state, and particularly in the south, was favorable climatic conditions and optimistic appraisals of soil fertility. Development was made possible by the release of federal lands through the Swamp Lands Act of 1850. Ultimately, Florida received over 95,000 square kilometers of federal land, about 65 percent of its entire territory (Carter, 1974). These lands were used by politicians to entice capitalists to invest in drainage and land reclamation; a state bureaucracy, the Internal

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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Improvement Fund, was established to oversee this process. In the early years, the state ceded vast amounts of land to railroad companies for laying track in the Florida wilderness, much of it inaccessible at that time (Blake, 1980). Indeed, as recently as 1893 mail was delivered to Miami by means of a three-day hike from Boca Raton, 96 kilometers to the north (Derr, 1989).

In the wake of the Civil War, the state's development strategy, based on promoting railroad construction through land grants and railroad bond guarantees, collapsed with the bankruptcy of the railroads (Blake, 1980; Tebeau, 1971). The extensive swamp and overflowed lands ceded by the federal government were placed at risk as creditors demanded payment on their now worthless bonds. The legal process, an arduous one, was finally resolved when what was in essence a mammoth land sale—about 1.6 million hectares (16,000 square kilometers) at 62 cents a hectare, or 25 cents an acre—was held in the early 1880s. The purchaser, Henry Disston, restored the solvency of the Internal Improvement Fund, provided the railroads' creditors with a modicum of satisfaction, and allowed the state to resume using land as a lure to development. Unfortunately, though, Disston's efforts fell far short of expectations. His firm, the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Canal and Okeechobee Land Company, only managed to permanently drain about 202 square kilometers, calling into question early assumptions about drainage costs (Tebeau, 1971). In response to the demonstrated difficulties, private investors held back, although the dream of establishing a rich agriculture in the region lingered.

Even with these early activities, much of the land in South Florida remained little altered as the nineteenth century came to an end. In most respects, the integrity of the natural Everglades and adjoining watershed areas was still largely intact; only very small areas had been converted to agricultural and other human-dominated land uses. By 1900, probably fewer than a thousand people lived in the Everglades watershed area south of Lake Okeechobee.

1900–1930: Drainage and Land Conversion

With the construction in the early 1900s of a coastal railroad and the initiation of major drainage activities south of Lake Okeechobee, human manipulation of the South Florida ecosystem increased rapidly. Wealthy investors from Florida and northern cities took advantage of cheap land prices and government incentives to establish an extensive agricultural area south of Lake Okeechobee and coastal resort communities and port cities from Palm Beach through the Florida Keys. South Florida's population increased tenfold between 1900 and 1930 and marked the beginning of what would be exponential growth over the next six decades (Marth and Marth, 1993).

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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Because the state of Florida wanted to encourage settlement in South Florida but still lacked the money to provide the infrastructure, particularly the water control, needed for that settlement, it granted or cheaply sold land to various developers so they could drain it and then resell it to would-be settlers (Hanna and Hanna, 1948). In 1905 Gov. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, a Progressive era politician and champion of small farmers and small business, was elected on a platform advocating further drainage of the Everglades (Proctor, 1996). The Everglades Drainage District (EDD), the institutional mechanism put in place to accomplish further drainage, was authorized to levy ad valorem taxes to finance the construction of drainage works. It was headed by the governor and his cabinet.

These initial phases of economic development were driven in part by tourism. The arrival of Henry Flagler's railroad in Miami in 1896 and the growth of tourism provided further impetus to agricultural expansion. Indeed, Flagler's vision centered on a two-way flow of traffic—tourists to the south and produce to the north, particularly pineapples and citrus (Derr, 1989). By 1909 Miami, whose population stood at 12,500, was enjoying 125,000 tourist visits a year (Derr, 1989).

With the creation of the Board of Drainage Commissioners in 1905 (it had created the Everglades Drainage District), drainage of the Everglades began in earnest (Finkl, 1995; Tebeau, 1971: 348). By 1913, 360 kilometers of canals had been dug in the district (Derr, 1989), and produce (tomatoes, beans, and other crops) was being shipped by steamboat to Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers for both local consumption and shipment north (Blake, 1980). By 1917 the EDD had completed the construction of four major canals—Miami, North New River, Hillsboro, and West Palm Beach—from Lake Okeechobee through the Everglades to the tidewater. By 1925 the St. Lucie Canal extended from Lake Okeechobee eastward to the tidewater. Unlike the other canals, which were constructed at least partially along the alignment of natural creeks or rivers through transverse glades, the St. Lucie Canal wound through uplands with no natural drainage patterns. It served the single purpose of draining Lake Okeechobee. A little over 700 kilometers of canals were in place by 1931, connecting the southwest coast to the southeast coast and thereby opening the entire region to agricultural encroachment, human settlement, and environmental change.

In 1920, 23,000 persons were living on farms and in rural settlements in South Florida, cultivating 138 square kilometers; by 1927, 92,000 inhabitants were cultivating 186 square kilometers (Blake, 1980). Along the south shore of Lake Okeechobee, the soil was fertile, a mixture of mineral lake sediments and organic matter from submerged vegetation (Snyder and Davidson, 1994). But only a few kilometers from the lake and extending a hundred or more kilometers southward, the soils were very infertile

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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because of their low mineral content stemming from the digotrophic conditions under which they were formed.

The land reclamation process went hand in hand with the demands of private investors for land and the state's willingness to manage the actual reclamation activity. Soon after the state demonstrated its intent to go forward with drainage, well-funded real estate speculators bought large tracts of land and resold them to smallholders, many of whom lived in other parts of the country. (The speculators collected fees from small-holders and paid the state to carry out the drainage.) This system functioned until the smallholders became aware that the reclamation process was much slower than had been advertised. In addition, deadly hurricanes struck in 1926 and 1928, exposing the riskiness of agriculture in the region. The willingness of the smallholders to continue funding this system dissipated, and dredging stopped. The momentum of growth was further slowed by the 1926 crash of the Florida real estate boom in the coastal, more tourist-oriented parts of the region.

Overall, the period 1900–1930 laid the foundation for the extensive growth and development of South Florida. Despite the impediments to growth, development produced a marked increase in the regional population—to 229,000 by 1930. Most population growth was concentrated along the southeastern Atlantic coast. Some areas in the newly drained portions of the Everglades also grew because they offered attractive agricultural opportunities.

1930–1950: Flood Control and Consolidation

The period 1930–1950 saw a fundamental restructuring of the South Florida region that changed the internal dynamics of the two emerging, yet increasingly separate, urban and agricultural systems. As a result, natural resource utilization and land conversion steadily increased throughout the period and accelerated in the 1950s. Between 1900 and 1953, approximately 2,625 square kilometers of natural lands were converted to agricultural or urban uses.

The Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II deflected attention from the early booster dreams for South Florida, but at the end of the war there was renewed investor interest in the region. In the meantime, however, a fundamental shift had occurred in the public's perception of the region's natural systems (Light and Dineen, 1994; Solecki et al., 2000). Many people had become aware of the side effects of unplanned drainage, as once-abundant wading birds began to vanish, as saltwater intruded into municipal well fields, and as the region's scenic splendor dissipated in clouds of smoke from muck fires.

Floridians' sense of unease was only exacerbated by the record floods of 1947 and 1948. The extensive flooding forced government officials and

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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local residents to reconsider drainage and flood control in the region. In response to local economic and political pressure, Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish an extensive public works undertaking known as the Central and Southern Florida (C&SF) Flood Control Project. Although several drainage projects had been tried in the Everglades area since the late 1800s, the C&SF project was a major turning point for water management in the region, because it served objectives beyond flood control and water conservation such as prevention of salt-water intrusion, improved navigation, preservation of fish and wildlife habitat, and maintenance of a water supply for Everglades National Park (ENP). Although there was no congressional prioritization of project purposes, flood control and water conservation were generally the guiding principles in project design (Light and Dineen, 1994).

The project authorization required the state to establish an agency to represent local interests in the design and financing of the project. The new agency, known as the C&SF Flood Control District, was later combined with the Okeechobee Flood Control District and reorganized as part of the 1972 Water Resources Act to become the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD). The project sought to encourage agriculture to further expand south of Lake Okeechobee and in some areas to the east, and it sought to oversee the formal creation of the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). It envisioned that urban development, assured of flood protection and water supply, would expand rapidly along the Atlantic coast ridge and in the eastern Everglades.

Between 1952 and 1954, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a 100-mile-long eastern perimeter levee that secured the Atlantic coast urban settlements from flood hazards (Light and Dineen, 1994). The Corps then followed with the Everglades Agricultural Area (1954–1959) and the Water Conservation Areas (1960–1963), producing a reconfiguration of the central and northern Everglades defined by levees, spillways, and pumping stations. Another 2,250 kilometers of levees and canals were added to what the state of Florida had already built (DeWitt, 1994).

In some respects, the demands for federal government intervention signaled not only a technological shift in the water management regime but also a shift in the attitudes of local residents. Although concern over natural disasters had long been an issue in South Florida, events of 1930–1950 offered graphic evidence of the region's vulnerability to major disruptions. Alarmed, residents and decisionmakers restructured the legal and institutional framework for water management in South Florida and agreed that government agencies should act to prevent damage from future flooding as well as initiate drainage projects (Blake, 1980). The government's response, which became known as multipurpose water management, produced at least two significant results. On a tangible level, the promise of flood protection meant heightened prospects for increased development of the up

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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per Everglades and west of the coastal ridge. On a more symbolic level, the public recognized that radical alterations to the natural system were necessary to accommodate growing human demands.

Technological innovation during the period also facilitated the expansion of the agricultural sector. The problem was how to farm in a semitropical environment, something largely unfamiliar to U.S. farmers and other U.S. agricultural interests (Derr, 1989). Through the efforts of the federally sponsored Everglades Experiment Station in Belle Glade, however, much was being learned about how to overcome the fertility limitations of the saw grass muck soils. Vegetable production, in particular, increased as a result of such research—from approximately 6,900 hectares in 1929 to 30,000 hectares in 1943, or nearly three-quarters of the total cultivated area in the northern Everglades region (Elvove, 1943).

Livestock production also had been limited by the infertility of the saw grass soils. Yet even after some of the pasture fertility problems were overcome, cattle production was still limited by many other problems such as frozen winter pastures, foot rot, anaplasmosis, and severe insect and tick infestations (Kidder, 1979). Many of these problems, however, were resolved by the late 1940s with the development of new agricultural fertilizers and pesticides.

A primary agricultural sector that failed to change significantly during the 1930–1950 period was sugar, because government-imposed quotas constrained sugarcane production (Sitterson, 1953). Production increased from 2,800 hectares in 1930 to 15,300 hectares in 1950, but even that large percentage increase was still small when compared in absolute terms to the future expansion. Florida sugar producers consistently petitioned the federal government to increase their quotas, but the only suspension of the Sugar Act occurred during World War II (Salley, 1986).

Another major development of the 1930–1950 period was the full integration of South Florida into the nation's transportation network when all-weather federal and state highways and airline companies and airports joined the railroads in expanding access to the region. The earliest major highways into the region were U.S. Route 1, which paralleled Flagler's Atlantic Coast Line railway; U.S. Route 27, which ran across the southern end of the peninsula in a northwest–southeast direction; and the Tamiami (Tampa–Miami) Trail, which cut east–west at the southern end of the peninsula. These three highways became the main arteries of a denser highway network that took shape during the 1950s and 1960s. Earlier, South Florida had become one of the birthplaces of the airline industry. By the late 1920s, Pan-American Airlines had begun to make Miami the “Gateway to the Americas.” It was joined shortly by another Miami-based carrier, Eastern Airlines (Chapman, 1991). The airline industry expanded during the early 1940s, as preparations for World War II affected the South Florida region.

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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From 1930 to 1950 population growth in South Florida slowed from the boom years of 1900–1930, but remained substantial. Reflecting the continued rapid growth in the Miami and Miami Beach areas and elsewhere, the population of South Florida climbed to more than 400,000 by 1940 and to just over 720,000 by 1950. The new in-migrants included retirees, workers drawn by the growing South Florida economy, and even a large number of World War II veterans, many of whom had trained in the region (Strong, 1991).

Middle-class tourists also flocked to the region, lured by effective marketing and aided by the increasingly efficient transportation networks. The transient population also included migrant farm workers who spent the winter months harvesting produce on the interior farms (Carlebach and Provenzo, 1993).

In the 1930s the vast majority of the population remained tightly clustered along the Atlantic coast. Only near Miami had the population moved more than several kilometers inland. The proportion of land converted to urban land uses remained small—no more than a few percent of the entire area. By 1940, only about 20 percent of the coastal population lived more than 8 kilometers from the coast (Schultz, 1991). During the 1940s, however, this growth began to spread across the Atlantic coastal ridge, with almost 30 percent west of this line (Schultz, 1991).

By the early 1950s some evidence of the shifts in land cover caused by these developments were already apparent (see Figure 10-4). Although most changes in land use until the early 1950s originated in agricultural production, the amount of land devoted to urban uses had begun to increase significantly, especially in Dade and Broward Counties.

Rapid urban growth also occurred in noncoastal (inland) communities. This growth was particularly significant, because for the first time the demand to shift land to urban uses outweighed the demand to shift land to agricultural uses over a large area. As a result, farmland was being converted to residential, commercial, and industrial land uses. Possibly in response, farmers seeking new agricultural land went even further inland, moving from the upland pine forests along the coastal ridge into the interior wet prairie and saw grass marsh areas. Among other things, the agricultural area south of Lake Okeechobee grew rapidly. Conversion was particularly evident along the major canals (for example, the Okeechobee, Hillsboro, and North New River).

1950–1970: Postwar Boom and Flood Control

The period 1950–1970 was one of tremendous growth for the South Florida region. During the 1950s and 1960s, it began to develop much of its contemporary socioeconomic conditions and land use patterns. Although earlier decades had witnessed greater percentage increases in

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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population, the 1950–1970 period saw the greatest absolute increase in population to date, an increase from 0.75 million to almost 2.5 million. The greatest sources of in-migrants were the northeastern and midwestern United States. Many also came from Caribbean and Latin American countries, particularly Cuba. The anti-Castro policies of the U.S. Congress, which encouraged a large influx of Cubans, accelerated the growth in the population and the economy of South Florida. The population growth meant dramatic increases in the local demand for land, much of it in the noncoastal areas. By 1970 almost half of the population was located west of Interstate 95 (Schultz, 1991). Much of the housing development to accommodate the region's newest residents took the form of land-intensive, low-rise, single-family dwellings.

The southeastern section of the region grew especially quickly, and by the late 1960s the Miami area had gained many of the characteristics of a large, diverse metropolitan area. In 1968, after decades of simmering racial tensions and discrimination against African Americans, the city was the scene of the first in a series of race riots. The racial tension, coupled with the growing income disparities and a poverty-stricken underclass, rendered many of the older settled areas less desirable to middle- and upper-income residents and in-migrants (see Portes and Stepick, 1993). This trend helped to fuel the rapid residential development of inland sites and smaller urban areas on the Gulf of Mexico coast.

As the population of South Florida grew, so did its local economies, which were more service-based than those in many other parts of the United States. Indeed, the percentage of South Florida's workforce employed in service-related industries in 1970 was significantly higher than the national average. The service-based economy had an important influence on the demand for local natural resources. Because the economy had developed so recently and so quickly and because the region had become so completely integrated into the national economy, South Florida had moved rapidly through the stages of development during which populations typically place heavy direct demands on the local natural resource base. For example, by the 1950s most of the foodstuffs needed to feed the resident population could be brought in, and heavy industry and environmental pollution were not widely found. Other than the basic demands for water for consumption and land for housing, South Florida's population appeared to be creating economic growth and employment without overexploiting the environment. Furthermore, the rapid inmigration and the emergence of an economy based mostly on federal money transfers, ocean-based tourism, and other services were concentrating development mainly in coastal and urban centers.

The agricultural sector also grew dramatically during 1950–1970. The value of agricultural product sales in South Florida as a percentage of all farm sales in the United States more than doubled from 1949 to 1968

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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(Winsberg, 1991). Agricultural growth during the 1950s and 1960s was particularly vigorous because of the increased national demand for fresh winter produce, especially in the Northeast and Midwest (Winsberg, 1991). In the United States this produce could be grown only in Florida, California, and a few other Deep South states. During the period 1950–1970, the region's two primary agricultural areas—the area south of Lake Okeechobee and the Atlantic coast ridge area—continued to grow. The Everglades Agricultural Area primarily produced sugarcane and a variety of vegetables. By this time, most of the farms in the EAA had become large-scale agribusiness operations.

The 1959 Cuban revolution was largely the reason the Everglades became the greatest cane sugar-producing area in the United States. In 1959 sugarcane occupied 19,000 hectares in the Everglades and was processed in three mills. The United States had depended on Cuba to supply a large portion of the nation's sugar demand, but the embargo of Cuban produce after the revolution and the higher tariffs imposed on imported sugar ended that dependence.

During the embargo, many Cubans fled to Florida, including experts in all phases of cane sugar production. A few also possessed the wealth and expertise to invest in Florida's cane industry to help meet the domestic demand. As a result of these developments, sugarcane production increased spectacularly. By 1963 there were 55,800 hectares of sugarcane in the Everglades, which increased to 92,000 hectares by 1965, 121,000 hectares by 1979, and 162,000 hectares by 1987 (Salley, 1986; Snyder and Davidson, 1994). The new opportunities for sugarcane production came at the expense, however, of other EAA agricultural activities, especially the cattle industry, which declined significantly during the 1960s.

And what were the impacts of all these developments on the region's land use patterns? Tremendous changes took place from the early 1950s to the early 1970s. Two of the more obvious were the rapid increase of agricultural land in the EAA, and the increase in urban land, particularly around the cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and along the entire coastline heading northward to West Palm Beach.

The rapid urbanization along the Atlantic coast led to other important shifts in land use patterns. From 1953 to 1973 most of the remaining upland pine forests and nearshore agricultural areas were converted to urban land uses. In 1973 just a few remnants of the coastal pine forest remained, and farms were found only in isolated pockets situated between the urban fringe and the public conservation lands to the west. In short, agricultural lands were largely reduced to the role of transition zone between the urbanized coast and the interior Everglades area. Meanwhile, other lands, typically in even more inland locations, were being shifted to agricultural production. These shifts were particularly evident

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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in the southern portion of Dade County and in a stretch of land running northward from the Broward-Palm Beach county line.

1970–Present: Dynamic Growthand Constraints

Like the periods described earlier, the last 30 years have seen tremendous changes in South Florida. Absolute population growth has continued at a rapid rate, huge tracts of land have been converted to urban and agricultural uses, and the demand for water resources has continued to grow. As before, the two forces driving land use modification and conversion have been the growing national demand for Florida's agricultural produce and increased in-migration. The population of the region, almost 2.5 million by the year 1970, was 3.6 million in 1980, and 4.6 million in 1990. Huge numbers of in-migrants have continued to stream into the region from the Northeast and Midwest and from other countries, particularly Latin America and the Caribbean basin. Inland, significant amounts of land have been cleared to make room for the construction of large planned communities, mostly designed for retirees. Many of the residents of these new inland communities have come from outside the region and have raised the median household incomes (Walker et al., 1997).

Tourism has continued to grow as a major industry in the region. By the mid-1980s the region was the destination for approximately 15 million visitors a year, and, together, Broward and Dade Counties maintained over 75,000 hotel and motel rooms (Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, 1994).

In the late 1980s, the basic pattern of land use remained the same, but the shifts seen in the earlier 1950–1970 period had intensified (see Figure 10-5). The continuous strip of urbanized land along the Atlantic coast became more clearly defined and dominated the roughly 160-kilometer stretch from northern Palm Beach County to southern Dade County. Much of the conversion of land to urban uses from the 1970s to the late 1980s occurred within or adjacent to settled areas. The agricultural zone separating the coastal settlements from the interior Everglades had become significantly smaller. Far inland, shifts in land use were associated with the conversion of land to agriculture, and in the EAA the amount of agricultural land increased. Other, much smaller conversions to agriculture took place in the eastern coastal region in a broken string of parcels often just alongside the publicly held lands.

Present-day agriculture in the region is mainly export-oriented (Snyder and Davidson, 1994). South Florida produces 21 percent of the nation's sugar (Stone, 1992), and, as of the 1990 growing season, sugarcane, the region's most important crop, occupied 178,200 hectares of Everglades land, over 10 times the expanse in 1950. It is mostly grown just south of

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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Lake Okeechobee (Coale, 1994). Sales of sugarcane approached $500 million in 1990 (Alvarez et al., 1994).

But sugarcane production in Florida would not exist without the advantages given it by the U.S. government. Since 1934, the federal government has maintained a sugar quota, apportioning purchases among foreign and domestic producers and guaranteeing a price usually double that of the world market. As noted, up through 1960 the amount of sugarcane that could be produced in Florida was severely restricted and therefore relatively little land was devoted to it—19,000 hectares in 1959. After the Cuban revolution, the federal government placed an embargo on trade with Cuba, reapportioned its sugar quota, and suspended the domestic acreage restriction. (Up until this time, Cuba had maintained the largest sugar quota.) These events began the process that saw sugarcane production expand rapidly over the next several decades in Florida.

Since 1970, the other large agricultural production sectors also have experienced tremendous change stemming from a variety of causes. For example, winter freezes in more northerly locations in the state have accelerated the development of citrus production in South Florida, particularly Hendry County.

The continued rapid population growth and land conversion in South Florida have meant dramatic shifts in the agricultural economy of many areas within the region (Solecki et al., 2000). Particularly in the urban–rural fringe of Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, the increased demand for land for urban uses and rising land values have led to the conversion of a significant amount of agricultural land either to urban land uses or to higher-value crops (for example, land used to raise vegetables was shifted to higher-value nursery products). In general, the agricultural sector has become increasingly open to land speculation and tenant farming, where farmland is purchased by land development companies and then leased back to the farmers. Such an arrangement keeps property taxes low while not limiting prospects for future development.

Although agriculture and tourism remain important components of the regional economy, a new component has emerged related to Miami's proximity to markets in Latin America and North America (Solecki, 1999). These market advantages have operated for both conventional and unconventional economic products. For example, with the narcotics boom in the mid-1970s Miami became the drug capital for much of the world; an estimated 70 percent or more of the U.S. supply of heroin, cocaine, and other illegal substances flowed through the region. This traffic brought drug-related wealth and crime to Miami. Indeed, throughout the 1980s, money laundering and cash surpluses were conservatively estimated to have added $1 billion to 2 billion a year to Miami's economy (Cartano, 1991).

Another major source of revenue was the more than 2 million Latin Americans who visited Miami each year from 1976 to 1983. Although the

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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economic growth rate of Miami slowed significantly after the collapse of many Latin American economies in the early 1980s, by 1990 Miami had become a major international trade center. The Miami customs district handled only 2.1 percent of U.S. trade in 1990 ($19.1 billion), but it processed approximately 40 percent of the trade to Central and South America and the Caribbean (Nijman, 1996). Today, Miami continues its drive to gain prominence in global trade, particularly with Latin America (New York Times, 1996).

Thus as it enters the twenty-first century South Florida is a highly dynamic and increasingly diverse region. The regional economy has grown tremendously in recent decades (see Table 10-3), and the employment structure has changed to reflect the growth of the service sector (see Table 10-4). Income levels also have risen steadily, but then so has the degree of income disparity, thereby fueling crime and the formation of an underclass (Portes and Stepick, 1993). While the agricultural economy is still important, it has declined significantly relative to services. Throughout the region farmland is under intense conversion pressure, and in some counties agricultural activities are becoming scarcer.

Even though the South Florida economy has become more diverse and robust, profound questions have emerged recently about the general quality of life and social cohesion of the region (Croucher, 1997; Portes and Stepick, 1993). The critical issues behind these developments are the increasing diversification of the regional population as large numbers of Caribbean and Central and South American migrants have continued to pour into the region, and the increasing concern about the Everglades ecosystem and the growing sense of “paradise lost.” These issues have had some direct and indirect impacts on the patterns of land use in the region.

Hundreds of thousands of permanent international migrants came into the region during the 1980s and 1990s. Joining the Cubans, most of

TABLE 10-3 Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Florida, Per Capita, Regional Estimate, 1960–1990

1960

1970

1980

1990

Florida (millions of dollars)

14,443

$38,478

$118,301

$226,964

Per capita a (dollars)

2,917

5,667

12,138

17,543

Regional estimate b

4,735

13,852

43,622

81,522

(millions of dollars)

(19.2)

(21.5)

(8.7)

aThe years that data were acquired were: 1963, 1972, 1982, and 1989. bEstimates based on regional population as a percentage of total Florida population. In parentheses are the average yearly growth rate by decades. Value for 1990s not yet available.

SOURCE: Calculated by authors from State of Florida Statistical Abstract data.

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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TABLE 10-4 Employment by Sector, South Florida, 1930–1990 (percent)

1930

1940

1950

1960

1970

1980

1990

Primary sector employment

Region

13.6

10.8

7.5

5.0

3.2

2.5

2.4

United States

24.4

14.1

4.5

3.3

Secondary sector employment

Region

10.7

5.7

7.3

10.5

13.5

12.6

9.8

United States

29.3

25.9

25.9

17.7

Tertiary sector employment

Region

75.7

83.5

85.2

84.5

83.3

84.9

87.8

United States

46.3

60.0

69.6

79.0

SOURCE: Census of Population, U.S. Census Bureau.



whom arrived from the 1960s to early 1980s, have been new streams of migrants from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Puerto Rico. This immigration has given rise to tension between these groups and other groups in the region, primarily the African American and white Anglo populations. Conflicts have centered around employment shifts, political representation, cultural values, and community structure.

These ethnic population shifts have helped to cause land use shifts in the region beyond the obvious changes that come with increased population. The heightened Caribbean and Latin American presence in Dade County has been associated with the flight of whites northward to Broward and Palm Beach Counties (Boswell and Curtis, 1991). Hurricane Andrew, which hit southern Dade County in 1992, helped to accelerate the rate of relocation. In the early 1990s, areas like southwest Broward County were already growing quickly because of improved highway access, low interest rates, and the appeal of a less-urban location, but the hurricane helped to push land development “years ahead of schedule” (Solecki, 1999).

Also in the 1990s, concerns about the fate of the Everglades ecosystem and the region as a whole increased dramatically. It had been clear decades earlier that the hydrologic and landscape alterations were having negative impacts on the Everglades, but the size and potential impact of the problem finally brought the issue to the fore. In the mid-1990s the situation became so obvious that the governor of Florida convened a blue-ribbon panel to examine the current threats and create a framework for a more sustainable future.

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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As a result, restoration of the Everglades became a major national policy initiative. Scientists such as those working within the U.S. Man and the Biosphere, Human-Dominated Systems Directorate (Davis and Ogden, 1994; Harwell et al., 1996; U.S. MAB, 1994), nongovernmental organizations such as the Audubon Society and Everglades Partnership, and state and federal agencies such as the South Florida Water Management District and Federal Interagency Taskforce on Restoration, worked together and separately on developing a strategy for reversing ecological decline and promoting ecological sustainability in the Everglades.

No single project better exemplifies this effort than the massive one currently aimed at reviewing all of the water management policies in the region and modifying the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers first begun in the late 1940s. The $7.8 billion effort, known as the Restudy, calls for changes in the quantity, quality, timing, and distribution of water in the Everglades in order to restore the regional ecosystem and improve the general quality of life in Florida (see www.restudy.org for more information). The comprehensive plan recommended by the Restudy has more than 60 major infrastructural components. It was developed with the help of dozens of local, state, and national public and private groups and agencies. The fundamental goal of the plan is to capture most of the freshwater that now flows unused to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico and divert it to areas of greatest need. The bulk of the water will be reintroduced into the natural Everglades flow way to foster ecological restoration; the rest will be used to benefit local farming and urban demands. Implementation of the Restudy plan began in July 1999 and already has involved the purchase of approximately 50,000 hectares of new conservation lands. Although the full impact of the project on land use in the region will not materialize for another 20 years, the effort may well be as important as the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project first authorized in the late 1940s.

EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE OF THE PROCESS OF LAND USE CHANGE

Thus far this chapter has described in very broad terms the process of land use change in South Florida and its links with population growth. It revealed that the tremendous decadal growth in population and incomes led to changes in land use in the Everglades throughout the twentieth century (see Figure 10-8). The rest of this chapter uses quantitative data to further illustrate the links between these various elements at both the regional and subregional levels.

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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Image: jpg
~ enlarge ~
FIGURE 10-8 Land cover change, from natural to human-dominated systems, South Florida, 1900–1988. SOURCE: South Florida Water Management District, 1988.


The Impact of the Changing Regional Economy on Land Use

During the early period (pre-1930), the agricultural economy and urban settlement regions in South Florida were tightly linked. Although agricultural exports to areas outside the region grew during this period, much of the agricultural production went to feed the local residents and tourists. With the rapid drainage of land and construction of improved rail and road links, the development of export-oriented agriculture took off. Then, after World War II, the demand for agricultural and residential

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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Image: jpg
~ enlarge ~
FIGURE 10-9 Land cover in South Florida, 1900–1988. SOURCE: Calculated by authors from data provided by the Center for Wetlands, University of Florida (1900, 1953, 1973) and South Florida Water Management District (1986). NOTE: Water areas are defined as open water, including lakes and bays. The high-resolution 1986 data allowed for increased identification of such features, which explains much of the increase in area.




land increased substantially as the regional economy increasingly responded to national and international markets.

The change in the rate of land use conversion throughout the century depicts the shifting demand ( Figure 10-9). Based on the data available, the rate of conversion was much less during the early period (1900–1953) than during the periods 1953–1973 and 1973–1986. Between 1900 and 1953 about 2,625 square kilometers of natural lands were converted to agricultural or urban uses, or an average of 4,953 hectares a year. Between 1953 and 1973, nearly 5,800 square kilometers (28,997 hectares a year) of natural areas were lost to human uses, and from 1973 to 1986 another 2,650 square kilometers (20,387 hectares a year).

One partial explanation is the clear link between increased agricultural production for a national and international market and land use conversion. In 1939 the region accounted for 0.3 percent of all farm sales in the United States; in 1986, it accounted for 1.3 percent. Particular sectors were especially important. For example, South Florida's share of national sugarcane sales increased from 13.1 percent in 1939 to 46.1 percent in 1986; its share of national vegetable sales increased from 5.5 percent to 15.0 percent during the same period (Winsberg, 1991). Prices were set not by local supply and demand equilibrium but were the results of national

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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and international markets and competition, with government support in the case of sugar.

The expansion of agricultural land was especially rapid during the middle part of the century, and the demands for urban land use also increased dramatically after World War II, particularly when automobile-oriented, land-intensive suburban development gained popularity. During the first and second periods, (1900–1953, 1953–1973), however, the conversion of natural areas to agricultural uses predominated and was greater than 70 percent for both periods. In fact, even with the rapid expansion of the urban population and the demand for land for urban uses during 1953–1973, the agricultural conversion of natural areas still climbed to 75 percent of the total amount of natural areas conversion, up from 72 percent in the preceding period. Much of this conversion took place inland from the Gulf of Mexico coast away from the urban populations. Later, though, the urban component increased appreciably. Between 1973 and 1986, urban expansion accounted for 124,169 hectares (or 47 percent) of the total 265,035 hectares of natural land converted. The agricultural component fell to 53 percent for the same period, down from 75 percent for the period 1953–1973.

The area of encroachment per new resident provides further evidence of the changing nature of the link between population growth and land use change. Over the periods 1900–1953 and 1953–1973, total encroachment per new resident grew from 0.26 hectares to 0.33 hectares. It slowed, however, for the third period (1973–1986) to a value of 0.18 hectares per new resident.1 The decline during the third period of record is illustrative of the continued agricultural expansion in inland areas, particularly in Collier, Hendry, and Lee counties, and the suburban and exurban sprawl, particularly in western Broward and Palm Beach counties.

A land use shift of growing importance in the region was the conversion of farmland to urban land uses and the further conversion of inland natural sites to agricultural development. Over time, natural area sites for new residential areas declined, so developers turned to farmland. As farmers lost agricultural land, other more interior land was converted from natural land cover to agricultural production. The conversion of agricultural land to urban land more than doubled over the periods 1953–1973 and 1973–1986, growing from 32,733 to 75,160 hectares. In relative terms, the increase was more dramatic. As a percentage of the total conversion of natural areas, loss of agricultural lands to urban use climbed from 5.6 percent to 28.3 percent of total land conversion.

1The 1900 population was taken as 6,000. The 1953 population was interpolated between 1950 and 1960, the 1973 population between 1970 and 1980, and the 1986 population between 1980 and 1990.

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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The Impact of Infrastructure on Land Use

These regional phenomena indicate little about exactly how the process of land use change took place. In order to determine at the subregional scale how these changes occurred and what their relative impacts on the environment were, this section examines the role of infrastructure in steering development to specific sites. Although one might assume that land conversion is associated with infrastructure development, sites near some kinds of infrastructure, specifically canals and levees, were in fact the setting for the most extensive conversion from natural land use to other land uses.

Table 10-5 presents the fraction of land converted (natural areas to agriculture and natural areas to urban) for land that lies within 5 kilometers and 10 kilometers of specific canals and levees in South Florida. The data in Table 10-5, given for the periods 1900–1953 and 1973–1986, reveal the impact that public investments in infrastructure have had on the region's landscape evolution. In the first period, fully 73 percent of all agricultural and 79 percent of all urban conversion occurred within 10 kilometers of the 1930 canal system, showing that natural areas encroachment was clearly infrastructure-driven, even for the large expanses of uplands on both the east and west coasts of South Florida. By the second period, the importance of the canals had somewhat attenuated, although fully 56 percent of urban conversion still occurred within 10 kilometers of the 1930 canals. Note that the land within 10 kilometers of the canals constitutes approximately 10–20 percent of the land area of each county through which the canals pass.

Unfortunately, infrastructure projects also were associated with environmental problems. Even at canal sites remaining in natural ground cover (that is, nonagricultural and nonurban land), significant environmental degradation occurred, such as extreme changes in the natural pe-

TABLE 10-5 Canals and Natural Lands Encroachment, South Florida (percent)

1900–1953

1900–1953

1973–1986

1973–1986

Agricultural

Urban

Agricultural

Urban

5 kilometers

63

57

23

36

10 kilometers

73

79

43

56

NOTE: The canals considered were constructed by 1930. Percentages represent proportion of total natural areas converted. For example, 63 percent of all natural areas converted to agricultural use occurred within 5 kilometers of the canal system.

SOURCE: Calculated by authors from Center for Wetlands and South Florida Water Management District data.

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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Image: jpg
~ enlarge ~
FIGURE 10-10 Brazilian pepper, melaleuca, and cattail infiltration, South Florida, 1988. SOURCE: South Florida Water Management District, 1988.




riodicity of the water table, the introduction and spread of nonnative, alien species, and the inflow of water pollutants.

We examined the spatial distribution of three well-recognized alien species in the region: Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia), and cattails (Typha spp.)—see Figure 10-10. These species invade native species, eventually excluding and changing the local ecosystem (for example, through increased transpiration of water). Then, based on grid assignments to the South Florida region, we produced frequency counts for the observance of these exotic species in relation to three components of infrastructure—roads, canals, and levees. These data

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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TABLE 10-6 Exotic Species and Development Infrastructure, South Florida

Brazilian Pepper

Melaleuca

Cattails

Proximate a

Roads

33

37

15

(9)

(13)

(4)

Canals

18

23

6

(5)

(7)

(2)

Levees

8

18

14

(3)

(4)

(1)

Nonproximate b

Roads

6

18

4

(30)

(42)

(15)

Canals

21

32

13

(34)

(48)

(17)

Levees

31

37

5

(36)

(51)

(18)

aEntries for proximate categories show observed frequencies of GIS-generated grid cells (one square kilometer) containing both exotic species and an infrastructure component. Expected frequencies under null hypothesis of no spatial association appear in parentheses below the observed frequency. For example, in 33 (of 900) grid cells Brazilian pepper and roads are observed simultaneously. If the presence of roads did not affect the likely occurrence of Brazilian pepper, one would expect to observe 9 cells with both roads and the exotic species. Thus the observed value exceeds the value that would be expected in the absence of a spatial relation.

bEntries for nonproximate categories show the occurrence of exotic species in grid cells without the designated infrastructure component. Thus Brazilian pepper is found in 6 grid cells where no roads are observed. In the absence of a spatial relation the expected number of observations would be 30.

NOTE: The chi-square statistic was significant for all combinations of exotic species and infrastructure. The null hypothesis of spatial independence was uniformly rejected.



show strong spatial relationships between the presence of one of these elements of the built environment and the presence of one of three exotic species ( Table 10-6). The upper panel of the table shows observed and expected frequencies of grid cells containing both an infrastructure component and some exotic species. Thus, in 33 grids can be found both a road and some Brazilian pepper. Under a null hypothesis of no spatial relation between the location of a road and the presence of Brazilian pepper, the expected frequency would be 9. Thus, there were many more instances of this combination than would be likely if no relationship existed.

Alternatively, in the cells where infrastructure components are absent, the frequency of some exotic species is lower. For example, in the case of Brazilian pepper, six cells contained roads but no Brazilian pep-

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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per. If no spatial relationship existed, the expected number of cells containing roads without Brazilian pepper would be 30. This same pattern is repeated for all combinations of exotic species and infrastructure components. There is always a more-than-expected frequency of observed exotic species in the presence of infrastructure and a less-than-expected frequency of nonoccurrence under the presumption of no spatial relationship at the 95-percent statistical confidence level.

THE KEY ROLE OF INSTITUTIONS AND MARKETS: A DISCUSSION

This historical perspective reveals the key role played by governments and markets in setting the stage for regional economic development and population growth and for subsequent changes in land use. Drainage of some areas of the region began in the late nineteenth century through the cooperative efforts of the state of Florida and investors from inside and outside the region. Several early efforts, such as Disston's project, ended with only partial success. Then, as part of Progressive era reformist policy at the turn of the twentieth century, the state of Florida became more directly involved in drainage efforts and sponsored some activities that lasted nearly 50 years, far beyond any individual's planning horizon. When drainage was finished, the federal government intervened for another period of sustained investments. By the late 1960s the ecology and hydrology of all South Florida had been fundamentally altered through dredging and filling operations.

Private interests profited tremendously from the common effort, realized through state intervention, to develop a viable economy in South Florida. But this economic development, while generating income and wealth, has fostered rapid population growth, which in turn has caused significant encroachment on surrounding natural areas. The most rapid population growth first took place along the Atlantic coast, particularly in and around some of the early towns, including Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Later, in mid-century, population growth accelerated on the Gulf of Mexico coast. The agriculture-based population in the interior remained relatively much lower throughout the century.

The region's early development phases expanded agricultural lands, but with ongoing regional development came a switch to urban encroachments. From 1900 to 1973 more than a half-million hectares of land were converted to agricultural uses. During the same period, 220,234 hectares of land were converted to urban uses. Later, from 1973 to 1986, urban-based populations demanded increasing amounts of residential space, particularly in the coastal zones. Since then, the expansion of human settlements has been deterred by physical constraints (such as extreme wetland locations) and institutional constraints (such as publicly pro-

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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tected lands) imposed by the system. Agricultural to urban conversions have become the primary land cover dynamic.

Over the years, several factors were involved in land use change. For one thing, there was a positive spatial association between the location of large capital infrastructure features—canals, levees, and roads—and heightened rates of land use conversion and the frequency of occurrence of alien plant species. These results present further evidence of how policy decisions at the local, state, and national levels guided the changes in the region's landscape.

One of the most interesting observations is the impact of the global economy on the South Florida region. As the South Florida economy expanded, it became increasingly integrated into the national and international economies, and in turn was increasingly influenced by events beyond the borders of Florida. The impact of the Cuban revolution and shift in the sugarcane market are the most obvious example. Currently, the economy of the region is being restructured through development of the Miami area into a major international finance and shipping center, which has brought increased flows of capital and in-migration to the region and will surely result in further changes to the landscape.

CONCLUSION

The analysis presented in this chapter suggests that changes in land use may be understood, at least in the South Florida case, through the study of institutional and market forces. Governmental intervention was key throughout the history of South Florida, especially when the study region was a frontier. The economic environment was simply too risky to sustain private interests alone, and state investment in infrastructure was critical. In more recent decades, federal action such as the U.S. embargo of Cuban sugar and the development and implementation of the federal environmental protection legislation had dramatic impacts on South Florida and the region's natural environment.

We must conclude that the common argument that population growth in South Florida led directly to changes in land use is overly simplistic. Government-supported infrastructure developments produced the economic opportunities that played a large role in land use changes in the region. In the early decades of the twentieth century, government-sponsored drainage operations fostered the expansion of agricultural development and settlement, and the canals attracted settlements and land use conversions. Government subsidies of population growth in the form of tax laws favoring large dwellings and utility pricing practices also added to the overall growth.

At mid-century, the expanded drainage operations and flood control activities carried out by the U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers led to fur-

Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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ther land use change. By the early 1960s much of the infrastructure needed to enable the conversion of land to agricultural and urban uses was in place. It was during this period that the amount of land converted per new resident in region was the highest—0.33 hectares per person from 1953 to 1973. From 1973 to 1986, as land became scarcer, the rate of natural land conversion per new resident began to slow.

Given these results, the connection between population growth and land conversion is best described as indirect. The relationship has been heavily influenced by shifts and turns in public policy at all levels of governance—local, state, national, and international. In South Florida these policies influenced land use change through two dimensions. First, the policies encouraged in-migration to the region, which led to increased exploitation of the land. During the past several decades, the U.S. embargo of Cuban sugar and the relaxation of controls on international immigration have had dramatic environmental impacts on South Florida.

Second, the policies channeled land development to particular types of sites or areas within the larger region. Federal responses to demands for increased flood control and now for increased environmental protection of the Everglades system have moderated the pace and distribution of land conversion. The most extreme examples of this are lands that are now under public ownership. There, all development has been excluded.

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Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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Suggested Citation:"10. Transformation of the South Florida Landscape." National Research Council. 2001. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10144.
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As the world’s population exceeds an incredible 6 billion people, governments—and scientists—everywhere are concerned about the prospects for sustainable development.

The science academies of the three most populous countries have joined forces in an unprecedented effort to understand the linkage between population growth and land-use change, and its implications for the future. By examining six sites ranging from agricultural to intensely urban to areas in transition, the multinational study panel asks how population growth and consumption directly cause land-use change, and explore the general nature of the forces driving the transformations.

Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes explains how disparate government policies with unintended consequences and globalization effects that link local land-use changes to consumption patterns and labor policies in distant countries can be far more influential than simple numerical population increases. Recognizing the importance of these linkages can be a significant step toward more effective environmental management.

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