Answer: Cypress domes form in shallow surficial depressions in the swamp’s underlying caprock, but that doesn’t explain why some depressions capped by a cypress dome and others, right next door, form a tree-free herbaceous marsh.
It might have something to do with the thickness of the marl.
Or maybe fire frequency or flooding depth also factors in.
And it gets most of its water straight from the sky.
As presented at the Big Cypress Symposium
But that doesn’t mean …
It hasn’t changed over the decades.
In fact, by the time the Big Cypress was saved from development – and designated as natural refuges, parks and preserves – a vast network of canals and levees had already been put in place.
Animation of how drainage altered the watershed
For one, the watershed shrunk.
The headwater delivery system that used to reach high up into the Caloosahatchee and Lake Okeechobee is now diverted to the coasts. Meanwhile, the water that used to flow into Big Cypress from the Everglades has been cut off, or even reversed.
Major drainage preceded conservation of The Big Cypress
We’re not saying we don’t love being a watershed.
It’s the best of all possible foundations to build on. The next step is doing hydrologic restoration projects great and small to get the water right.