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The Florida Everglades is a tropical marshland located in the southwest portion of the state of Florida.


The Everglades extends from Lake Okeechobee on the north, to the Florida Straits on the south. It has been called the River of Grass because there is a slow flow of water from the lake south and the principal plant is the sedge known as sawgrass. The higher points in this extremely flat area are covered with trees.

Some 50% of the original Everglades have been lost to agriculture. Most of the rest is now protected in a number of national parks. Water from the Everglades is still used as a water supply for major cities in the areas such as Miami.

An Anhinga perched on the trail boardwalk railing

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park preserves the southern portion of the Everglades, but represents only 20% of the original wetlands. It covers 1.5 million acres and is a World Heritage Site. The only highway access is the State Road SR9336 running 38 miles from Florida City to the coast at Flamingo. Excluding the main Visitor Center and some smaller park facilities, there is no development in the park.

There are a number of car parks and trails in the Park, of which the most famous is the Anhinga trail. This trail allows very close approach to the birds such as herons and the Anhinga. The latter birds will perch on the rails of the boardwalk.


Specialities of the park include Caribbean Flamingo at its only regular North American site, usually near Flamingo, Short-tailed Hawk and Smooth-billed Ani. Other wading birds such as herons, egrets, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill and ibises are abundant.

The raptors include the rare Snail Kite and the very common Red-shouldered Hawk and Osprey.

From Flamingo, the water and mud flats of Florida Bay allow views of pelicans, shorebirds, terns and skimmers.


The publication in 1947 of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas' Everglades: River of Grass was as electrifying an event among naturalists as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. It drew attention to the vast area that makes South Florida habitable but was being treated by agricultural interests and housing developers as a worthless swamp that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would profitably be able to drain. It galvanized President Harry S. Truman's executive order later that year to protect more than 2 million acres as Everglades National Park.

The strength of Mrs. Douglas' name was such that when legislation designed by lawyers representing the sugar growers' industry proposed to suspend all water quality standards in the Everglades for twelve years, it was named the "Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act"—until the 103-year old author demanded that her name be removed from the pending bill (which passed however as the "Everglades Forever Act") when it was finally passed in 1994.

The Florida courts had imposed a plan to reduce damaging phosphate levels in the Park's waters to below 10ppb by 2006. The phosphate derives from sugarcane farming.

Governor Jeb Bush has now put the date back to 2016. Judge William Hoeveler, who was overseeing the cleanup, has has been removed following legal action by US Sugar Corporation of Clewiston, Florida.

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