Florida is unique on Planet Earth. There is no other place like it. The geology, environment, and the Everglades are amazing. Unfortunately, too many people like it as well, and the population explosion is killing off what makes Florida unique! It is no longer the same. When I was a kid, the freshwater springs were crystal clear and you could drink out of them; now they are cloudy, getting infiltrated with pollutants, and many have even stopped flowing. I remember when it only took about 15 minutes to get outside of town from Orlando. Not anymore!
We are going through periods of severe drought and severe flooding. Fertilizers and other pollutants are filtering into the streams and rivers and causing algae blooms along the coast and on the St. Johns River. We are having huge fish kills and quickly losing our marine life as building high rise buildings along our coasts continues. So when the EPA tries to compel the state to make strict water standards, what does our governor do? Complain and argue that the EPA is too strict and we don’t need standards that extreme. And the red tide and algae continue, and seem to be getting worse.
So I feel very compelled to tell about the importance of the Everglades. This 100 miles wide by 250 miles long, slow flowing river of grass the starts around Orlando and ends in the Florida Bay in southwest Florida. People do not realize that this is the life blood of Florida, of mother earth herself that covers half the peninsula. It is crucial to our water. All of Florida is about water. We are barely above sea level. The water flows into mangrove estuaries that are (or soon were) the richest producing estuaries in the world, with the largest mangrove forest in North America. Most all our seafood, the fish and the shell fish, need these estuaries to survive. Without it, they would not survive, and neither would we.
About 10 years ago there was a big push for the Everglades restoration. It was in the news every day. But I fear that it has now been forgotten. The restoration project has slowed down, and I wonder if any of our politicians are interested anymore?
The Everglades Trail was created in Florida to promote the importance of the Everglades. There are 21 kiosks around Florida that tell of the Everglades. Much like the DeSoto Trail kiosks, now we have an Everglades Trail. There are more that could have been added; I can think of at least a half dozen other places that could have had a kiosk, like Corkscrew Swamp, the Caloosahatchee River, or the Miami River. Or are those places too far gone to preserve and not worth a kiosk because we failed them?
We have a kiosk where I work, and when we sought to order more brochures, we were told that they were currently out of print, and funding was not immediately available to print more. So, are we going to see an end of the Everglades Trail kiosks? I decided to track them down before they disappeared. I am probably the only person ever to visit all 21 kiosks.
Before showing you the kiosks, here are the rail brochures: