Late last month, the Palm Beach County Commission unanimously voted to impose a temporary moratorium on new rock mines in part of the the Florida Everglades. The decision to formalize the one-year ban will be made on August 26. Any mines currently operating or already in development will not be shut down due to the temporary ban.
Rock mining, which involves blasting through chunks of limestone to produce rock to be used in various construction projects, is a sore subject for environmental groups, who argue that mining pollutes water supplies and hinders restoration of the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. The commission has allowed mining to spread to more than 20,000 acres of the Everglades Agricultural Area since 2006. This past April, the commission voted to temporarily ban rock mining gave Palm Beach Aggregates permission to team up with Florida Crystals, a sugar giant that owns large swaths land abutting the Everglades, to expand their mines over an additional 2,400 acres.
Late last week, the Everglades Aquatic Ecosystem was added to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger. The area was originally placed on the list in 1993, but removed in 2007 after restoration and conservation efforts showed improvement in the area. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee again added the Everglades to the list during a meeting last week in Brazil, citing “serious and continuing degradation of its aquatic ecosystem.”
According to UNESCO, the Everglades “contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere, the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie and the most significant breeding ground for wading birds in North America.