Everglades National Park (Pic by Rodney Cammauf, National Park Service; via army.mil)

A host of state legislators from both sides of the aisle will announce the formation of a Florida Everglades Legislative Caucus at a press conference slated for 1 p.m. today.

The event, which will be held in Boynton Beach, will be hosted by state Rep. Steven Perman, D-Boca Raton, and Sen. Thad Altman, R-Viera.

According to a press release sent out earlier today, expected press conference participants include “representatives from the Everglades Coalition, Everglades Foundation, Arthur R. Marshall Foundation, Friends of the Marshall Refuge, and others who support restoration of the Everglades ecosystem.”

The Florida Everglades has been inundated with the side effects of pollution brought on by sulfates coming from the nearby agricultural areas which, when coupled with naturally occurring mercury, forms methylmercury — a substance that alters the hormones of certain wading bird species and even Florida panthers.

Effects of methylmercury exposure on wildlife can include reduced fertility, slower growth and development and abnormal behavior that affects survival, depending on the level of exposure. A study of birds exposed to low amounts of the substance revealed that methylmercury contamination led male ibises to attempt to mate with other male ibises,  which could account for the fact that the population of wading birds in the Everglades has decreased by 90 percent since 1900.

Though the Everglades contains Stormwater Treatment Areas designed to filter some of the industrial pollution from the area, they have not proven entirely effective. In early October, a federal judge ruled that water coming from the state-operated Stormwater Treatment Areas, and running south into the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, has been exceeding pollution limits designed to protect the Florida Everglades.

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