The Everglades [ ɛvɚgleɪdz ] are a tropical marshland in the south of the U.S. state of Florida. Part of the Everglades is protected as Everglades National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Location and landscape

The Everglades range from Lake Okeechobee in the north to the extreme southern tip of the Florida peninsula. They are also called grass river. This river can not be seen at first glance as such, since he rarely as an open water surface outcrops. Rather, these up to 60 km wide water vein is often only a few inches deep, so that almost the entire area is covered in grass, but he flows with 1 meter per hour. Only occasionally in the more elevated regions are growing trees, such as bald cypress, Gumba - limbo trees, royal palms and mahogany trees. The Everglades, however, one should not only look as wetland, but it is a prairie, which is flooded the greater part of the year and only in the winter is dry.

The highest natural point in the National Park is just 2.4 meters above sea level, in the Everglades is both geographically and topographically the lowest point of the state of Florida.

About half of the original area of the Everglades is now used for agriculture, the other half is for the most part under the protection of the National Park and adjacent nature reserves. The water of the Everglades, is used partly for drinking water for the neighboring cities, such as Miami. Thus, the vital basis is extracted from the Everglades. The intervention in the nature of the Everglades began in 1905 by the then Governor of Florida. Since then, the Caloosahatchee River was diverted and numerous canals were laid out to the coast.

The Everglades National Park

The National Park protects the southern part of the Everglades, but it only covers about 20 percent of the area of the original wetlands. The only road access to the park leading from Florida City near Homestead on State Road SR 9336 approximately 60 km south-west to Flamingo. In addition to the visitor center and some other smaller park facilities, the area has been preserved in its original state. In Flamingo and more than 40 other designated areas can be camped. However, mosquito repellent every season is advisable.

There are a number Equipped paths in the park, where you can observe nature and the animals. Particularly famous for its animal wealth are the Shark Valley - branches off from Highway 41 approximately 35 miles from Miami to the south - and the Anhinga Trail, 1 km left to the park entrance on State Road 9336 - named after the bird Anhinga. From this trail made ​​of alligator, cormorants, herons, Anhingas, big fish and turtles can be seen at close quarters.

Since 1976 there is the Everglades and Dry Tortugas UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserve. 1978, the largest part of the National Park Marjory Stoneman Douglas under the name Wilderness was also reported as a Wilderness area, the most severe class of protected natural areas in the United States. Since 1979, include the Everglades to the World Heritage of UNESCO. However, they were listed as endangered in 1993 because of the increasing pollution from fertilizers and mercury, the reclamation of the environment, as well as the devastating effects of Hurricane Andrew, and are therefore performed on the Red List of World Heritage in Danger. But the still ongoing pollution is still a serious issue. The fish are thus loaded with mercury and pregnant women and children are advised to refrain from consumption of fish from the Everglades. However, the number of nesting birds has declined sharply since 1930, many animal species are considered threatened or endangered. Between 2007 and 2010, this classification was briefly lifted on political initiative of the then U.S. administration since mid- 2010, the Everglades are again classified as endangered.

Due to the strong destruction of the 2005 hurricane season, especially near Flamingo, all the facilities are not yet re-opened in the southwest of the park. In Flamingo is just the campsite for overnight stays available. On 23 July 2008, the management plan for the construction of new infrastructure has been presented.


The park is home to the only wild flamingos in the USA. There are also a number of birds and waders ibises, pelicans, cormorants and storks. In the Everglades also raccoons, black bears, snakes, alligators, crocodiles as, manatees, spider species, cougars and other species live. The Everglades is the only region on earth, living in both alligators and crocodiles. The alligators are common throughout the territory, but they avoid the salt water. They avoid people normally, unless they feel restricted or threatened. Feeding alligators is prohibited and will be prosecuted with heavy fines. The crocodiles live, unlike the alligators, near the coast and in salt water. The larger animals are also much more aggressive than alligators, and therefore to be avoided absolutely. The stock of Prehistoric Animals is negligible and they are therefore in the entire United States as endangered. Even the famous Florida Panther is endangered and hard to see in the Everglades, the stock is 80 to 100 animals. The largest part of the heraldic animal of Florida lives in the Big Cypress National Preserve.

A total of 350 different bird species, 300 freshwater and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals and 50 reptile species have been recorded.

Restoration of the watershed

The flow conditions in the Everglades are strongly disturbed since water construction work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1920 and 1960. Only about half of the water from the northern Lake Okeechobee reached the Everglades, the rest is allocated for irrigation of agricultural land or for land reclamation in channels or retained by road embankments with retaining effect and directed in other directions. Since the 1940s, the negative impact of the measures on the Everglades is criticized. Since the 1990s, took plans to restore the flow conditions on a concrete form, they were merged into one overall plan, which was revised several times. In June 2008, the State of Florida bought south of the lake, which are rewetted and to serve as water retention areas for $ 1.75 billion surfaces. This restoration project to restore and preserve the Everglades is the largest in the entire history of the United States. These include the restoration of water flow from the Kissimmee, ensuring drinking water and protection from the land development.

Another measure to improve the water balance is the construction of bridges in the U.S. Highway 41, which forms the northern boundary of the National Park and is referred to in this section as the Tamiami Trail. During the construction of the first east -west link between Miami and Naples in 1928, the road was built in the swamps of the Everglades on a causeway. This dam is largely prevented by the drainage of surface water from Lake Okeechobee to the south. The serious ecological consequences for the national park have not triggered concern. However, the damming effect of the dam leads to an increased water level in the lake and its environment. Already in 1930 established the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a dam around the lake to control the water masses. The water is drained after heavy rains into the rivers Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River, where the water balance and the local fishing and oyster farming disturbs the respective estuaries. In order to improve the water balance in the region, several sections of U.S. Highway 41 are elevated on bridges. The first section of 1.6 km was completed in 2013, with more to come in the next few years. By mid-2013 bridges are provided in a total length of about 22.5 km. The financing share the federal government and the state of Florida.

Dangers of Tiger Python

Biologists see the ecosystem of the Everglades National Park threatened by in the 1980s, introduced from Asia, Tiger Python. Especially since 2000, its population rises sharply. Their number is now estimated at over 10 000. About 90 % of raccoons, opossums or Bobcats have already disappeared, which is attributed to the tiger python. The consequences of the disappearance of smaller predators are difficult to predict, but can be very far reaching. So turtles could proliferate when their eggs are no longer threatened by raccoons. However, by the Python and larger predators, such as alligators and native Florida Panthers threatened. Park guards and biologists are attempting to exterminate the tiger python in the park, are to the effect but not overly optimistic.