Wednesday, February 5, 2014


The alligators can thrive in this protected environment. 
Below is a much smaller gator.

I’ve been visiting the Everglades in southern Florida for a couple of decades. Especially since Hurricane Rita in 2005, it’s been hard to watch the slow deterioration of one of our most unique and important national parks. Rita played a role because there was never the money or willingness to repair the devastation to Flamingo, in particular.

This wood stork is good news. A ranger I met on the trail 
told me it's an indicator that water levels are improving in the Everglades.

On our brief visit to the park late this afternoon, we were shocked to find empty water bottles and candy wrappers floating in the water along the Anhinga Trail. An alligator swam up against a plastic, baby blue mechanical pencil caught up in an imperceptible current. Boardwalk railings are swayback and wooden fences are missing rungs. This is in sharp contrast to what was once the pride and joy of the Everglades. The Anhinga Trail was meticulously maintained and watched over.

Snowy egret, in flight. Perhaps it 
tired of tourists photographing it.

People from all over the world visit and photograph the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm just outside of Homestead. I spoke with a woman from France and a couple of men from Germany. What must they think about the way we prioritize in this country?

There is only one Everglades. The part that’s truly visible — the national park — serves as an important symbol for all that we don’t see of this vast river of grass. People regularly make pilgrimages to the Everglades. Today I met one man who comes here every other year. Everything is cyclical, he says. Someday our attention will come back to this spot. 

Let’s hope it’s not too late.

For the first time since I’ve been visiting, there was no gatekeeper to take the $10 entrance fee, just a handwritten sign that said: Enjoy.

This is what the river of grass typically looks like, 
with a hard-wood hammock to the left.

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