The healing of the Florida Everglades is the largest environmental restoration project in U.S. history — and its got some of the nation’s highest hopes pinned on it. Some of those hopes involve the Florida Bay, a once-pristine angler’s paradise that all but collapsed in the late 1980s, when its clear waters became clouded and 100,000 acres of sea grasses disappeared, as did numerous marine animals. Many had hoped the Everglades restoration project, which will increase the flow of water into the bay, would speed its recovery. But the U.S. National Academy of Sciences warned yesterday that the $7.8 billion project could instead trigger algae blooms and kill more sea grasses in the bay — news that could lead to a public backlash against the project, especially among anglers. Terrence “Rock” Salt, executive director of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, said he appreciated the NAS report, but he emphasized that the mission of the task force was not to please commercial or recreational fishers, but rather to restore original water flows and let nature take its course.

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