Enhancing the Everglades Through Environmentally Responsible Transportation

Posted 07/13/15 by Jane Yeager Cheffy in Building Trails, Taking Action

Photo courtesy Hector Parayuelos | CC by 2.0

National parks across the United States are struggling with growing concerns about the environmental impacts of providing vehicle-only access to their lands and amenities. Everglades National Park in south Florida is no exception. Fortunately, well-planned, multi-use trails such as the proposed River of Grass Greenway—a 12-to-14-foot-wide separated pathway that would run roughly parallel to U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) in Florida—allow access to natural areas while providing opportunities for active transportation.

River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) Concept

One of the goals of the ROGG is to provide safe access for non-motorized transportation across the southern part of the state and to protect the Everglades by promoting responsible transportation options. The 75-mile path will also provide access to six national and state parks, preserves, forests and wildlife refuges currently only accessible by car.

We Floridians need to take responsibility for maintaining our environment, including reducing harmful airborne pollution that contributes to sea level rise—a detrimental effect of climate change. Of all places in the United States, the Everglades is one of the most susceptible; in fact, scientists currently analyzing Everglades restoration are as concerned about sea level rise as they are about water-flow quantity and water quality.

Additionally, more car-based tourists visit the Everglades each year, leading to more deaths of endangered Florida panthers, which are found only in southern Florida (automobile collisions are one of the biggest threats to their populations).

Currently, public transportation along the U.S. 41 corridor, which connects the densely populated east and west coasts of south Florida, does not exist. In addition to providing a multi-use path for non-motorized transportation, the ROGG would include several additional benefits, including a companion shuttle system, making it the first piece of infrastructure to reduce traffic on U.S. 41 through the Everglades.

Because the ROGG alignment is in the shadow of U.S. 41, crossing almost exclusively through public lands, it will not create new disruptions to the watershed (such as habitat fragmentation or commercialization); alternatively, the ROGG would require improvements to the corridor for water drainage and to address other environmental issues.

The National Park Service is concerned about the increasing car traffic in and around our parks. ROGG provides a safe and healthy way for people to explore the Everglades and other natural resources on foot or on bike, reducing the need for automobile-based transportation.  

To learn more about ROGG, check out the Feasibility Study and Master Plan, which summarizes the findings of an in-depth study of the area to investigate the potential cultural, environmental and other impacts of the trail.

Now is the time to voice your support of this important regional trail connection today by signing this petition in support of the ROGG.

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