Synopsis

Decades ago, much of the Everglades' wetlands were drained to plant sugarcane. Now, efforts are underway to reconstruct some of these wetlands to handle the environmental impacts of sugarcane cultivation.

Sugarcane growers use phosphorus to fertilize their fields. During storms and flooding events, the nutrient runoff drains south into the Everglades' natural wetlands. The phosphorus fuels invasive cattail growth at the expense of native sawgrass. It also encourages algal blooms, which reduce oxygen available to the Everglades ecosystem.

A series of man-made wetlands are now being installed south of the agricultural area by flooding old fields and seeding them with native vegetation. The wetlands that have already been constructed appear to be effective at filtering out phosphorus runoff before it reaches the Everglades. They are just one part of Florida's massive effort to restore its "river of grass."