Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Field trip to Everglades National Park

This past weekend my daughter and I visited the Everglades National Park. This Florida treasure is located in our back yard, only 30 miles away from my home. Every year around this time I like to go into the wilds of the Everglades to witness nature at its best.
The Everglades or "The River of Grass" (as it was named by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, one of this country's first environmentalist) is a marvelous place to visit and only a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Miami. Driving into the park is like moving into another dimension. A great majority of the wild life and plants are unique to this park, very different from those found in other U.S. national parks.
The Park was created in 1947 and almost since its inception has been in danger from the errors and carelessness of man. The rapid population growth in South Florida has made we humans competitors of the Everglades ecosystem. Natural water flows into the park have been altered by the construction of canal systems to control flooding in cities. Agriculture in the central part of the state (especially the sugar industry) has greatly polluted the park and now we have politicians promoting the idea of oil and gas exploration near the boundaries of the park.
It does not take a degree in environmental science to see how fragile this place is and how important it is for all of us to care for this national treasure. Soon a bill will come before congress for Everglades restoration, an attempt at undoing the damage perpetrated by humans. The cost will be high but, can we afford to do nothing? So I ask you to help spread the word and ask your Congresscritter to support this bill--the Everglades needs all our help.
One of the main attractions in the park is the quantity of wild birds that live or migrate through. This year because of the drought we are experiencing, the water levels are low in most of the park and birds have moved to areas where water is more plentiful. Unfortunately, these areas are not very close to the viewing trails. The pictures below show a close-up of the Anhinga bird, the great white and blue heron, and a baby owl in a nest.

In the Everglades, the American Alligator is king--they are the main attraction and they know it. Everywhere you go there they are and it is amazing to see this fascinating wild animal resting on the banks of the trails watching the tourists go by. One snap of that powerful jaw and a tourist is history, but like good actors they know the role they must play.

The park has a diverse vegetation, from the miles of grass growing on shallow water (that is the reason for the nickname "The River of Grass" given by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas; it is also the title of her famous book describing in detail the magic of the Everglades), to hammocks or islands in the middle of this river of grass that resemble miniture rain forests with beautiful trees, air-plants, and flowers. Truly, this place is amazing and I hope all of you get to visit it someday!


gintoino said...

Wow! Beautiful place! I've eared about it but never thought it was that beautiful. thank you for charing these pictures with us

ldybug said...

I gotta get down there. Can you belive I've grown up two hours north of Miami and have never been tot he everglades! Very informative post. Thanks.

Brenda said...

Very interesting posts and photos.

Jeanette said...

Hi Rusty, Wow beautifull photo's and such what a place of beauty and only 30miles from home..

Nicole said...

Lovely pics. Reminds me of my one day tour there in August 2005-a very memorable experience.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

The Everglades is something which I hope to visit myself someday as it is such a wonderful place! Thanks for taking me there today with all the lovely pics you took Rusty!