Everglades Poster Celebrating Marjory Stoneman Douglas
The first-ever EVERGLADES DAY is this Sunday, April 7…. Fantastic! Many thanks to all of those who worked so hard to make this a legislative priority, highlighting and escalating issues surrounding the Everglades, as well as renewing the area’s restoration efforts. What a perfect time to visit and explore the ‘glades — and love this beautifully vital, rare, but endangered and always-threatened ecosystem. Check out the link below for events from Miami to Naples to West Palm Beach!
From the Everglades Foundation:
The first official Everglades Day will be celebrated on April 7, 2013. In addition to recognizing what an important resource this ecosystem is, not only to the state of Florida, but to America, the day will also honor Everglades activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, as it is designated to be held on her birthday.
The Florida Legislature voted in favor of an Everglades Day on March 7, 2012. From a National Parks Conservation Association press release: “The state’s support for an official Everglades Day will ensure that the Everglades ecosystem remains a top priority for elected officials and all Floridians while honoring Douglas’s legacy for protecting the River of Grass. . . Each time we turn dirt on an Everglades restoration project, we are protecting our drinking water supply, creating jobs and fulfilling a promise to protect our national parks, wildlife, and family memories….”
Some of the sights from one of the event locations, Grassy Waters:
Love and respect this place. Please.
Everglades Vista Along the Hog Hammock Trail
From Audubon Florida:
The Sugar Industry has launched an effort to further weaken Everglades cleanup efforts, load more of the expenses on the taxpayers, and have the Legislature attempt to nullify an important part of Florida’s Constitution. Your voice is needed right now to protect the Everglades — send a letter using the form below.
The House State Affairs Committee will act TOMORROW, Thursday, March 7 on a yet-unnumbered bill the Sugar industry has drafted. This bad bill attempts to insulate Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) farmers from having to do anything more to pay for or clean up their own pollution by codifying in law a dubious claim that Best management Practices (BMPs) are effectively reducing phosphorus pollution.
If the bill passes, the Everglades loses and you lose. Take action right now by sending a letter using the form below….
Click the Audubon Florida link here, to access more info and sign your name against “Sugar’s poison pill.” Help protect this already severely threatened, valuable ecosystem — the only one of its kind on the planet!
Great Egret in Grassy Waters — historically a key component of the Everglades watershed
Cypress Swamp of the Big Cypress National Preserve, Everglades
Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone. —Miller Williams
One special hike along the Rookery Trail (within the SWA Trail network of Grassy Waters Preserve) brought an unbelievable number of alligator sightings — I lost track at 30 in the space of 2-3 hours. By far the most of any hike! One of the guys we stumbled upon was this handsome fella.
He’s not hissing, or being hostile — far from it, he was as mellow as could be. As with other cold-blooded reptiles, he was basking in the sun, regulating his body temperature. Occasionally alligators will keep their mouths open, akin to a dog panting…. It’s a cooling mechanism.
Cooling down on a warm day
Out of 20-50 eggs that are laid by the mother alligator, only a few will survive to adulthood — usually less than five. Many predators prey upon the juvenile alligators, include snapping turtles, snakes, raccoons, bobcats, raptors, wading birds, and even larger alligators. This guy (or girl?) is a survivor, having encountered a mishap resulting in a missing foot as a hatchling or young adult — the injury appears long, and well-healed. And he/she was doing just fine, enjoying the beautiful land and wetlands of this magnificent preserved Everglades watershed.
Relaxing in my wonderful Everglades
There was some synchronous discussion during a *hammock* ecosystem reference in one of my recent posts … I’m so accustomed to these habitats, that I forget to detail their wonderful qualities!
From the National Park Service’s perfectly phrased definition of a hardwood hammock on their Everglades page:
A hardwood hammock is a dense stand of broad-leafed trees that grow on a natural rise of only a few inches in elevation. Hammocks can be found nestled in most all other Everglades ecosystems. In the deeper sloughs and marshes, the seasonal flow of water helps give these hammocks a distinct aerial teardrop shape.
Many tropical species such as mahogany (Swietenia mahogoni), gumbo limbo (Bursera simaruba), and cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco) grow alongside the more familiar temperate species of live oak (Quercus virginiana), red maple (Acer rubum), and hackberry (Celtis laevigata). This diverse assemblage of plant life supports an equally diverse array of wildlife.
Because of their slight elevation, hammocks rarely flood. Acids from decaying plants dissolve the limestone around each tree island, creating a natural moat that protects the hammock plants from fire. Shaded from the sun by the tall trees, ferns and airplants thrive in the moisture-laden air of these hammocks.
Here’s one of my favorite hammocks — an oak hammock of the Florida Trail, leading towards Jonathan Dickinson State Park from Indiantown Road in Jupiter. There are several types of hammock ecosystems in Florida — hardwood, palm, tropical hardwood — but this is a live oak (hardwood) hammock, more common inland.
To say it’s incredibly lovely does not do it justice — how can you not feel protected by, and protective towards, these ancient, sheltering giants?
Oak Trees / Hammock of the Florida Trail
Today, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the National Park Service is offering FREE entrance into any national park… So walk, meander, run, bike, or trail-ride your way to your nearest one!
Amazing Everglades and Sky of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
The remaining entrance fee-free dates for 2013 are:
- April 22-26 (National Park Week)
- August 25 (National Park Service Birthday, or Pre-FeyGirl Birthday)
- September 28 (National Public Lands Day)
- November 9-11 (Veterans Day weekend)
Cypress Swamp of the Big Cypress National Preserve
Love your national parks, national wildlife refuges, and national forests — numbering more than 2,000 — and continue to support them by your mere presence. And above all else, bask in the beauty of these wondrous spaces!
OFF the Florida Trail — Discovering a most amazing, awe-inspiring, and rare OLD cypress swamp