The Everglades subtropical wetlands in Florida are recognized for their unique features and for the fact that they are one of the most beautiful places in North America. The territory is also impressive for the fact that it is one of the largest wetlands in the world. Water and fire are two of the two main elements shaping the land, given that floods and draughts constantly affect it. In spite of the qualities that Florida Everglades has, the land is severely harmed by outside factors and it is essential for society to acknowledge the fact that urgent action needs to be taken in order for it to be brought back to its initial status.
The Everglades are full of sawgrass that moves as a result of the fact that water goes through the marshes. This is the reason for which the region came to be known as "The River of Grass." The South Florida territory once belonged to a larger watershed including Lake Okechobee, Florida Bay, and Florida Keys. These three locations were connected through the marshes (known as the Everglades) containing freshwater. The Everglades contained (and still do, in spite of the fact that the area has been subjected to great degradation during the recent years) a series of remarkable bird, plant, and animal species. It was not until 1948 when the authorities recognized the territory's importance, with Congress authorizing the Central and Southern Florida Project with the purpose of combating the effects of several devastating floods that occurred in the area. In order for the Florida Everglades region to maintain its features, the Army Corps of Engineers (the group in charge of caring for the land) needs to focus on controlling floods, on preventing salt water from entering the marshes, and on preserving the region's wildlife.
The Florida Everglades region was altered as a result of a series of factors, most of them dealing with the fact that the natural flow of the numerous small rivers was changed, making it less possible for the marshes to maintain their characteristics. Communities exploiting the region's resources were initially unable to realize that they could gain numerous benefits from the wetlands without altering them. As a consequence, it became increasingly difficult for the Everglades to provide individuals in the region with the amounts of fresh water that they needed in order to thrive.
One of the most damaging effects of the redirection of small rivers is the fact that the state of Florida came to lose more than "1.7 billion gallons of fresh water daily" (School of Public and Environmental Affairs). It is apparently estimated that it would require more than 35 years and an approximate 7.8 billion dollars for the authorities to bring the Everglades back to their original state. The Army Corps of Engineers presently plan to restore the Everglades both by redirecting the streams and by instructing people regarding the position that they should take in regard to making it possible for the Everglades to return to its former glory.
Considering that people initially considered that the Everglades were an inhospitable place, they were inclined to contribute to downgrading it by turning it into a wasteland. Not only did individuals ignore the fact that the territory contained a lot of resources, as they also expressed indifference in regard to its biological aspect, given that numerous species in the region were remarkable.
Even when they came to exploit its resources, people considered that it more important for them to gain benefits from the land than it was for them to maintain the ecosystem present there. Settlers are responsible for draining the region with the purpose of building houses and for planting crops. They considered that it was very important for them to use the fresh water in the area for their own benefit, regardless of the fact that they destroyed the marshland by doing so.
It is very probable that many species had already disappeared by the time that people in Florida came to acknowledge the fact that the wetlands were an essential factor in providing an environment for the numerous species of plants and animals in the area. Even with the fact that matters have gradually changed when concerning the degree to which people damage the land, a large part of Florida continues to be dependant on the water provided by the Everglades. Taking into account that the government considered people's needs to be equally important as preserving the Florida Everglades wetlands, the authorities divided the territory. "Of the original 3,000,000 acre historic Everglades, the northern 1,000,000 acres were designated the Everglades Agricultural Area (E.A.A.). Today, most of this land is used to raise sugarcane. The southern 1,500,000 acres of the original Everglades were dedicated in 1947 as the Everglades National Park"(Everglades: Overview).
The remaining 500, 000 acres were dedicated to serve as a conservation area with the principal purpose of protecting the Florida urban area from the numerous floods that occur in the region.
The Florida Everglades are unlike any other region on earth, and, in addition to the fact that people have limited information concerning the territory; it is very difficult for wildlife researchers to attempt to gain a better understanding of the land. Individuals were initially unable to come up with an explanation for the marshes, as "the region now called "The Everglades" was described as a series of vast, miasmic swamps, poisonous lagoons, huge dismal marshes without outlet, a rotting, shallow, inland sea, or labyrinths of dark trees hung and looped about with snakes and dripping mosses, malignant with tropical fevers and malarias, evil to the white man" (Douglas, 1947, p. 6). There are several notable species in the region, ranging from manatees and dolphins to the 800 species of fish and to the thousands of species of plants.
The Florida Everglades region is severely affected by the fact that there is no more balance between salt water and fresh water. Lakes are often choked because of the algae that sometimes multiply rapidly, making the area seem like a not so appealing green soup. Water is one of the main problems in the Everglades as while during some moments of the year the region is filled with water, it is dehydrated in other periods of the year, with the drought and floods being responsible for destroying the ecosystem.
Authorities presently go through great efforts to have water levels in the area stay within the normal limits, as they hope that this would improve conditions in the marshes (Ridgley, 2002).
The bird colony in the Everglades in unique because of the species present there, as "shrubs and trees festooned with blooming bromeliads host tricolored herons, great egrets, little blue herons, snowy egrets, snail kites, anhingas and more" (Levin, 1998). In addition to the fact that they are one of the main reasons for which the region is impressive, birds have also played an essential role in having scientists understand more about how the Everglades experience a degradation process.
While one might consider that the bird population currently inhabiting the marshes is remarkable, bird numbers have dropped significantly during the second half of the twentieth century and this has had a decisive effect on the ecosystem. When relating to the Everglades, someone who is familiar with the area is likely to think about orchids living in trees, crabs and crocodiles digging through the mud, and panthers taking some time off in the shade. However, with droughts and floods continuously damaging the area, it is particularly difficult for flora and fauna to manage to survive there.
While there is still hope for environmentalists to recover the western part of the Everglades, it is very probable that the eastern sector of the area is lost as a result of human intervention. Even though the Everglades…
Everglades National Park
Life Forms Found in the Area
Biological interrelationships among life forms in the area
Species depend on one another for food, etc.
Human intrusions threatening the area
Protections that exist to safeguard and preserve the area
What individuals can do to help protect the Everglades
A. Visit the Everglades
B. Learn ways to conserve the