How much do you know about America’s Everglades? Even if you live in Florida, you may have misperceptions about the ecosystem. What is it, where is it, and why does it matter? Read on!
The Everglades actually is the largest subtropical wetland in North America.
It’s a wide, slow-moving river.
It’s home to more than 2,000 species of plants and animals, 70+ of which are federally threatened or endangered.
It’s the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist.
The Everglades actually is known as a biodiversity hot spot with a vast array of species.
It has dry and wet habitats, from dry prairies to mangrove swamps.
It has freshwater and saltwater habitats, as well as “brackish” estuaries – a mix of freshwater and saltwater.
It’s home to the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere.
You can hike, bike, camp, fish, bird watch, geocache, kayak, boat, take photos, and more in the Everglades!
The Everglades provides “ecosystem services,” or natural services that are essential to our quality of life and economy. They include:
o Filtering and cleaning the water
o Providing water storage
o Flood control
o Preventing erosion
o Mitigating climate change impacts
o Providing beauty and shade
We need the Everglades, and the Everglades needs us.
9 million Floridians rely on the Everglades for their water supply.
The Everglades recharges the Biscayne Aquifer, which stores and cleans the drinking water for South Florida.
A healthy Everglades helps mitigate the effects of climate change.
The Everglades supports vital sectors of South Florida’s economy, including tourism, real estate, agriculture, and recreation.
To bust this myth, check out “12 Places to go in the Everglades Watershed.”
The Everglades begins just south of Orlando, in Shingle Creek near Kissimmee.
Historically, water flowed from the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, through the Kissimmee River, and into Lake Okeechobee.
Lake Okeechobee would overflow its southern brim into a wide, slow-moving river, nicknamed the “River of Grass.”
Eventually, freshwater would make its way south through the Everglades and into Florida Bay.
But, over the last 100 years, the natural flow of water was diverted by manmade dredging and draining of the Everglades for agriculture, development, and flood control.
That’s why the mission of The Everglades Foundation is to restore and protect the Everglades, and restore the southerly flow of water, as nature intended.
This information is provided by The Everglades Foundation’s education team, which focuses every day on cultivating and empowering the next generation of environmental stewards through its multi-faceted Everglades Literacy Program. Learn about the world’s only free, comprehensive K-12 Everglades curriculum at EvergladesLiteracy.org.