In the southern part of Florida is the Everglades National Park with a unique landscape in which the shoals alternate with coastal prairies and swampy areas. The park was declared here on December 6, 1947 by President Harry S. Truman. In 1979, it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its numerous natural beauties.
Today, the park covers an area of 6,000 km2, which ranks third in the ranking of American national parks. The Indians called this vast lowland interwoven with many streams a “grassy river.” One of the most remarkable rivers in the world, which is 8-10 km wide but only 30-90 cm deep, flows under the grassland. The water from the first spring rains is collected by Lake Okeechobee, located in the very heart of Florida. The lake covers an area of 1900 km2 and its depth reaches an average of about 3.7 meters. After a few days, the lake will spill out of its shores and the water will fill the wide riverbed.
As the water recedes, the area is covered only by numerous lakes and smaller bodies of water. Thanks to this regular flooding cycle, unique and sensitive habitats have been created here, which need to be constantly protected. Originally, the Everglades spread across the southern part of Florida, but almost half of the park was dried up due to human activity. The first colonists to settle in Florida saw only a worthless swamp in the Everglades, taking up much more lucrative projects such as urban development. In the 19th century, the idea was born to drain the area and build numerous canals, which, however, created serious problems that ecological councils are still unaware of. That is why the Everglades National Park was established here, which today is one of the most endangered natural oases on Earth.
According to iamaccepted.com, there are completely different habitats next to each other in the park, but they are completely dependent on each other. The park is not just a monotonous swampy landscape, but a diverse range of different animal and plant species. In the tidal area of coastal lagoons, fresh and salt water is mixed, in some places the waters are only salty and in others only sweet. This environment is absolutely ideal for the occurrence of dense forests of red, black and white mangroves. Their aerial roots have become a great shelter for crayfish and fish. Flocks of wading birds like to search the muddy bottom for food.
In the area of the coastal prairies, we find heavily drained areas to which only a few species of special desert plants have been able to adapt. There are relatively extreme conditions with salty soil. In the wide riverbed there are huge bulrush thickets with deep mud. Numerous islands, which are not large, rise above the surface. Nevertheless, they are often covered with small woods, in which mahogany, yew, royal palm, Bengal ficus, but also oaks and maples grow. As there is also a relatively high humidity, ferns, orchids and other plants also thrive in the lower positions.
The animal kingdom is also very diverse in the Everglades. There are 36 endangered species, including sea turtles and alligators, leopards and manatees, as well as birds, butterflies and other insects. The park is the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles up to 6 meters long can coexist. However, the greatest attention is paid to the rescue of extinct manatees, which are in danger of extinction, due to the loss of their original environment. Numerous construction works carried out near the park as well as changes in water flow have a great impact on their lives. These are large animals that feed on plants and do not avoid contact with humans.
Part of the national park is now open to the public. Those interested can ride here on motor boats with a flat bottom, which is called airboats. In some places, asphalt roads have even been built, on which you have the opportunity to ride a bike and enjoy the view of nature or heated alligators. The Everglades is also crossed from east to west by the Tamiami Trail, which connects Tampa and Miami. The US government is constantly contributing a lot of money to the restoration of the national park, yet the Everglades is one of the most endangered protected areas in the United States.