A „glade“ is a clearing in the forest, and more than a century ago someone evidently saw South Florida‘s sea of saw grass bordered by mangrove trees and gave this region its name. What‘s wrong with the Everglades? Back then the Everglades was a broad sheet of moving water – 50 miles wide and six inches deep – that flowed unimpeded from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, but as farmers and developers moved in, the Everglades has been polluted, paved over and partitioned. Engineers chopped up the river with an elaborate system of canals, dikes, and pipes to provide South Florida with fresh water and flood control. The park, which sits at the bottom of this plumbing system, receives much of its water through guillotine. The problem is, these water deliveries don‘t adequately mimic the Everglades‘ natural rhythms, so the ecosystem has sufferd. But for more than 110 years, have people monkeyed with this system. The result for Everglades National Park have been devastating: The wading bird population has crashed, Florida Bay is dying, and animals whose ranges extend beyond the park have lost critical habitat. Why has this park, after hemorrhaging in full view of the public form more than 45 years, failed to inspire the American people to stop its destruction?
At 1.5 milion acres, is this park the second largest national park in the lower 48 – yet she isn‘t among the nation‘s ten most visited parks. Without any dramatic outcrops, some areas of the park appear parcticaly two dimensional, the temperature gets up in the summer to 95° with 100% humidity, and there are thunder and lightning storms like everyone‘ve never imagined, and every day the mosquitoes are so thick. Visitors to Everglades National Park do best to forget the spectacular and focus on the sublime – the more than 600 kinds of animals (not including the 60 species of mosquitoes and scores of critters that have never been counted) and 900 plant species that are found in a variety of habitats, including the mangrove forests, the dry pineland ridge, the broad, shallow sloughs that carry freshwater through the park, and several types of tree islands, such as bayheads and tropical hardwood hammocks. For all this natural variety, the park has been designated an international biosphere reserve and a United Nations world heritage site. Buttonwoods and poisonwoods, rat snakes and pygmy rattlers, black-whiskered vireos and red-shouldered hawks – they‘re all here to see if you slow down and seek them out.
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The Everglades Dying for help
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