Magill’s “Backyard” Focus Aims to Protect Florida’s Everglades

By: Taylor Karp

For Ron Magill, a South Florida resident, nothing seems to hit closer to home than the preservation of the Florida Everglades.

“The greatest threat to wildlife is not hunting or poaching as much as it is habitat loss and habitat destruction,” said Magill. “And until people understand that, we’re not going to be able to save these animals.”

Through the Ron Magill Conservation Endowment, Magill has been able to provide support to Dr. Jerry Lonez, chief scientist at Florida Audubon, to further researching spoonbills and wading birds, and the rise and fall of their populations in Florida’s wetlands. With this donation, Lonez had been able to expand upon his studies of the water quality in the Everglades, specifically the effects of salinization and saltwater intrusion into freshwater ecosystems.

The Everglades Science Center is currently studying the flow of freshwater into Florida Bay and the impacts that the diversion of water has had throughout the Everglades ecosystem. Experiments conducted by the center show that changes in freshwater flow are linked to the decrease in plant life sustainability in the area and the loss of small fish.

Magill said the threat of saltwater intrusion is detrimental to the preservation of many of the Everglades’ native species, and through the support given by the endowment, Lonez has been able to conduct more nest surveys of native birds and other animals that are affected by saltwater intrusion.

Experiments conducted by Lonez have been able to link the diversion of freshwater flow into vital parts of the area to the decrease in plant and fish life. These are vital parts to the Everglades ecosystem, providing prominent food sources for higher predators.

In addition, after he was made aware of a need for body cameras for law enforcements officers in an effort to crack down on illegal poaching, Magill presented the Everglades National Park with a $7,500 check.

For the future?

As a board member for Florida Audubon, Magill is able to get information about where help from the endowment can have effective and lasting conservation efforts.

“Florida Audubon is really a great barometer for the science of the Everglades,” Magill said. “They do a great job of not only conducting the research and finding the data, but using that data to involve legislators in Tallahassee to change the laws, and ensure preservation of this beautiful land.”

 

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