05 December 2007
We've Been Swamped
Taking a break from the State of Washington drizzle to pay homage to the only subtropical preserve in North America. Today is the Golden Anniversary of Everglades National Park, first dedicated by Harry Truman in 1947
Everglades National Park is a World Heritage Site and home to such rare and endangered species as the American crocodile, Florida panther, manatee, brown pelican, southern bald eagle, and loggerhead turtle. The tourist advisory board tells you that it is fun to take canoes through the glades and then go on to mention that alligators are common, and fast at close range, but human attacks are extremely rare. Do look out for diamondback and pygmy rattlers, water moccasins, and coral snakes. I think I will settle for a drive by on the way to the Keys.
It is also home to 347 species of birds, including anhingas, Cape Sable sparrows, great white herons, white ibis, short tailed hawk, roseate spoonbills, purple gallinules, and sand hill cranes. Exotic plants include ferns, orchids, and bromeliads. The most common plant is the deceptively graceful sawgrass that bare sharp teeth on the edges of their leaves. Sheesh. If the animals don't bite you, the plants will.
Now here's a nice little bit.
Big Cypress National Preserve is part of the greater Everglades watershed, and is made up of 2,400 square miles of marshlands, grasslands, slash pine, mangroves, and both dwarf and rare great bald cypress, some of which are up to 700 years old.
hmmmmmm 700 years old and we are trying to destroy it with global warming and the influx of salt water due to damming of feeder rivers, drought and fire. Good going gang.
Airboats are actually prohibited in the park. A better way to explore the waterways is by kayak or canoe, letting you glide silently and unobtrusively past wildlife. The 2-mile Noble Hammock Canoe Trail and the 6-mile Hell's Bay Canoe Trail are clearly marked. Which brings us back to:
Silliness aside, the Everglades are deservedly one of the top Florida attractions for visitors. Sadly, they are threatened by urban sprawl and agriculture. The wading bird population is down to less than a tenth of what it once was. Originally, alternating floods cycles maintained the wetland wildlife habitat, but then government flood-control system began diverting water to canals running to the gulf and the ocean.
The film below is ten minutes in length, but well worth watching for it's coverage of the Everglades, the environment and the effects of global warming.