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publications > reports > DOI-1969 Env. Impact of the Big Cypress Swamp Jetport

U.S. Department of the Interior
DOI-1969 Env. Impact of the Big Cypress Swamp Jetport

Environmental Impact of the Big Cypress Swamp Jetport


United States Department of the Interior


In September of 1968 construction started on a new aviation facility in the Big Cypress Swamp of Florida about 36 miles west of Miami. The construction is being carried out by the Dade County Port Authority, an official arm of Metropolitan Dade County government. The Authority is purchasing, mostly through condemnation, 39 square miles of land in Dade and Collier Counties. The first runway of this complex, oriented east-west, is nearing completion and will be used initially as a training facility by commercial airlines.

The jetport lies only 6 miles from the northern boundary of Everglades National Park. The port and the industrial, residential, and transportation complex which would probably grow up around it have potentially a significant influence on the national park as well as the Big Cypress Swamp and Conservation Areas No. 3. This influence would be exercised primarily through effects upon the quantity, quality, and seasonal distribution of surface water drainage from the airport and surrounding developed areas.

The purpose of this report is to assess the impact of this airport and associated developments on the ecosystem--of which Everglades National Park is a part. The report is based upon the existing information known to local professionals who collectively possess broad experience in the south Florida environment. Three levels of jetport development are considered, the initial construction which is designed primarily for training, a possible intermediate level at which the jetport would be used for cargo, and finally a level of full development which would serve commercial transportation needs, relieving Miami International Airport of some of its expected pressures.

The report does not make specific recommendations but instead describes the anticipated environmental effects at the various levels of development and considers some alternative methods of development which appear to be open.

This report considers losses and gains to the environment, rather than losses and gains to the economy. The report also attempts to indicate the nature of costs and benefits in terms of the broad and long-lasting environmental effects of the jetport plan. It is designed, hopefully, to point a direction of thinking which might also be used when considering developments of this magnitude in other areas. The relationship of the airport to the Everglades ecosystem and to Everglades National Park is a problem typical of impingement of technological development on special environmental features.

The confrontation between transportation technology and environment is especially acute in this case because the environment involved is unique in the nation, as exemplified by the establishment therein of Everglades National Park. The problem is compounded by the fact that the airport would be larger than any now existing--about five times the size of Kennedy International Airport in New York.

This report deals with the environmental difficulties that are expected to be associated with the development of this jetport and not primarily with other severe problems which the park is experiencing. Some of the other problems are discussed, however, as examples of difficulties which might be experienced from the jetport and to indicate that the burdens of the park are already great.

(The entire report is available below)

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Last updated: 04 September, 2013 @ 02:04 PM (KP)