For the past hundred years mankind has been digging canals and draining water from the Everglades for urban and agricultural development. As a result, it is now less than half its original size and its inhabitants are all now threatened, endangered, or extinct; i.e, manatees, sea turtles, the Florida panther, and dozens of others.
My objective is to stop further destruction by first enforcing mitigation, through education, to pave the way for real restoration. While there are “restoration” efforts out there, I believe I can have a stronger impact by sharing the experiences of what the local wildlife is going through with the masses. With that, I wrote a children’s book and created an interactive platform for the kids to use to educate the public.
The main characters in the book are Gunther and Gladys Glades, an alligator couple. In the story, Gladys run her own newspaper, 'The Glades Gazette,’ in which she uses to get word about how they’re losing their homes. Her message reaches all corners of the US, in turn bringing support from all walks of life. The result is a positive message about coming together as one to achieve a common goal.
While doing my research in the Everglades I met with several outfits that do educational tours to see about special pricing for large groups. We reached an agreement of $5.00 per youth, affording more schools to do more field trips.
HOW IT WORKS:
SCHOOLS AND CURRICULUM: I've met with several school board members and we’re currently working out the details.
1. Schools will get copies of this book where the children will learn through the experiences of the characters about what is happening in the Everglades. 2. Field trips will take place where the kids will then get a hands on experience, capture photos / video and take notes.
3. Upon return they will share their experiences and imagery online at www.GladesGazette.com and educate the public by sharing their experiences.
The Glades Gazette is a platform will be ran by a student body. It will be structured with a student Editor in Chief and student managing editors in each subject area; i.e: Water Control/Pollution, Plants and Wildlife, Current Events, etc.
With enough children (and parents alike) getting involved now, the better chances this magnificent ecosystem will have for a future.
Threats to the Everglades
The Everglades National Park is often referred to as the "most threatened park in the U.S.". In the mid 1800s, the federal Swamp and Overflowed Lands Act gave the Everglades to the state of Florida with the provision that it would be drained. Drained lands were quickly taken over by agricultural interests, resulting in endless fields of sugar cane and rice.
Water control has been achieved through the use of drainage canals and pumping stations throughout the Everglades region
During the early 1900's, two major hurricanes hit Florida, killing thousands of people. This resulted in the building of a dike at Lake Okeechobee, interupting the sheet flow of water across the Everglades. The 1,500 acres (6.1 square km) of land protected by the dike is known as the Everglades Agricultural Area. The water table in this area is just below the land's surface. During the rainy season, water must be pumped out to avoid flooding of agricultural lands, with the land requiring irrigation during the dry season with water from nearby Lake Okeechobee.
Water data collection station.
Drainage canals effectively succeeded in draining the Everglades by the 1930's, effectively halting the sheet flow of water across the eastern portion of south Florida. The Army Corps of Engineers confined the Kissimmee River to a 53 mile (85.3 km) long canal system, destroying thousands of acres of wetlands. Currently there are over 1,400 miles (2,253 kilometers) of canals and levees within the Everglades region used for water control and diversion.
Introduced species pose a serious threat to the native habitats and communities of the Everglades
Introduced species pose a serious threat to the ecosystems of south Florida including the Everglades. Native to other locations, introduced species are introduced to new areas through human activities. These species were originally introduced to Florida as pets, food sources, ornamentals, or as biological controls. These species are able to outcompete native flora and fauna for food and space due to lack of population controls such as predators and disease. These infestations of non-native species have adverse effects to native ecosystems. Since the early 1900s, these species have been rapidly spreading throughout south Florida, changing the landscape and squeezing out native communities. Efforts to combat this spread of introduced species are continuing, although they are extremely difficult to eradicate.
Development pressures from agriculture, industry, and urban areas have destroyed more than half of the original Everglades
Urban development, industry, and agriculture pressures have destroyed more than half of the original Everglades. Ever-increasing population growth along with industry in south Florida has resulted in large metropolitan areas and rising pressures on the surrounding natural environments. Agriculture, such as sugar cane, rice, and dairy farms, exists on drained land within the Everglades.