LAKELAND, Fla. (WTXL) — In continuation of its commitment to water stewardship, Publix is contributing $2 million to remove invasive trees and plants in 1,000 acres of wetland in the Florida Everglades.
These trees and plants use more than their share of water, interrupting Florida’s natural water system. The company is funding projects at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and the saline glades in Everglades National Park that will restore the health of these habitats and return an estimated 174 million gallons of water per year to the local environment.
“A clean water supply is fundamental to the health and wellness of our communities,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “Through these collaborations with the National Audubon Society and the National Park Foundation, we are deepening our commitment to water stewardship by protecting, restoring and conserving an area that supplies nearly 8 million Floridians with fresh water every day and provides a critical natural habitat for endangered native species.”
Part of the donation will be provided to the National Audubon Society over a period of five years to help remove invasive willows and other plants from approximately 500 acres in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the western Everglades.
“In Florida, our quality of life and prosperity depend upon a healthy environment,” said Executive Director of Audubon Florida Julie Wraithmell. “Publix’s ambitious restoration initiative at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary will not only improve the habitat for iconic Florida species like the wood stork, but it is an investment in the quality of life for downstream communities in Naples, Bonita Springs and more.”
Similarly, Publix has pledged a three-year donation to the National Park Foundation to help remove and control Australian pine trees in approximately 500 acres of the saline glades region in the eastern portion of Everglades National Park.
“Publix understands that healthy parks and healthy people are interconnected,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO Will Shafroth. “Thanks to Publix’s support, the National Park Foundation is helping to create a healthier future for Everglades National Park and everyone who lives nearby. We couldn’t be more proud to partner with Publix on this important effort.”
The plants Publix is helping to remove disrupt Florida’s natural water process by absorbing water from rainfall before it can seep into the underground aquifers which provide South Florida residents with their daily supply of drinking water. They also displace native species like mangroves, which are important for their ability to convert salt water to fresh water.
Additionally, the Florida Everglades acts as a natural hurricane barrier and helps reduce the impact of flooding in storm events. And the Everglades is home to 39 federally protected and endangered species, including the manatee, American crocodile and Florida panther.
Restoration work at the two sites will begin later this year. For more information, click here.
In addition to its contribution toward Everglades restoration, over the past five years Publix has collaborated with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 605,000 native longleaf pine trees across more than 870 acres in Florida’s Little Orange Creek Preserve and Withlacoochee State Forest. The trees are estimated to collect over 66 billion gallons of rainfall and absorb more than 182,000 metric tons of net carbon dioxide over the next 50 years.
For more information about Publix’s sustainability efforts, click here.