Everglades National Park covers 1.4 million acres of South Florida and welcomes over one million visitors each year. It is the largest designated wilderness east of the Rocky Mountains and is the largest continuous stand of saw grass prairie in North America. The Everglades is home to over 230,100 acres of mangrove forest, making it the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere.
Students hike along the Anhinga trail and take a tram tour through Shark Valley, where they have the opportunity to observe countless birds, insects, and alligators in their natural environment.
Did you know:
- Nowhere does the Everglades landscape top eight feet above sea level.
- Eight different types of habitats exist in the Everglades: marine/estuary, mangroves, coastal prairie, freshwater Marl prairie, freshwater slough, cypress, hardwood hammock, and pinelands.
- Water management is one of the most critical issues facing the Everglades. South Florida’s freshwater supply comes from a six-month rainy season from May to October. The freshwater builds up in Lake Okeechobee and flows in a wide, shallow “river of grass,” 50 miles wide in places and anywhere from six inches to three feet deep, flowing south towards the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of 100 feet per day. The Everglades plants and animals have adapted to the cycles of wet and dry seasons. Any disruption to this water cycle ruins the feeding and nesting conditions for the wildlife.
- Other threats to the Everglades include poor water quality, the introduction of non-native plants and animals (causing the loss of native species as they compete for space and food), and Florida’s explosive population growth (both residents and visitors).
“There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth, remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them…”
– Marjory Stoneman Douglas, pioneer conservationist
“Here are no lofty peaks seeking the sky, no mighty glaciers or rushing streams wearing away the uplifted land. Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as the source of water, but as the receiver of it. To its natural abundance we owe the spectacular plant and animal life that distinguishes this place from all others in our country.”
– President Harry S. Truman