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Everglades, marshy, low-lying subtropical savanna area, c.4,000 sq mi (10,000 sq km), S Fla., extending from Lake Okeechobee S to Florida Bay. Characterized by water, sawgrass, hammocks (islandlike masses of vegetation), palms, pine and mangrove forests, and solidly packed black muck (resulting from millions of years of vegetation decay in near-stagnant water), the Everglades receives an annual average rainfall of more than 60 in. (152 cm), mainly in the summer. Big Cypress Swamp, to the northwest, and Lake Okeechobee are the chief sources of its water. Low limestone rises rim the area, acting as a natural retaining wall. The wildlife-rich area is home to such endangered species as the Florida panther, American crocodile, and manatee, and also home to a sizable, non-native Burmese python population.

Colonial expeditions in the 1500s found Native Americans living in the Everglades; in the late 1830s the Everglades was the scene of military operations against the Seminole. Large tracts of land were drained in the late 19th and early 20th cent., when the area was considered rich in agricultural potential, but only lands immediately bordering Lake Okeechobee were farmed. Winter vegetables and sugarcane are now the main crops; some cattle are raised. After great fires in 1939 (abetted by overdrainage), the first thorough studies of the Everglades concluded that most of the southern part was unfit for cultivation.

A ring dike had been constructed around Lake Okeechobee in the 1920s to prevent hurricanes from blowing water out of the lake, and massive additional flood control projects were undertaken following 1947 hurricanes. These, land development, and roadbuilding, especially the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41), disrupted the shallow, 60-mile (100-km) wide “River of Grass” that had flowed across the Everglades, altering seasonal rhythms, channeling water to the Gulf of Mexico so as to create shortages that have damaged plant and animal life, and causing increased salinity in Florida Bay to the south.

In 1994, Florida—and in 1996 the federal government—launched long-term reclamation projects, aimed at removing levees, reflooding drained swampland, and otherwise “replumbing” the Everglades. Legislation enabling the multibillion-dollar project, with the cost split between the state and the U.S. government, was passed by Congress in 2000. In 2008, however, the South Florida Water Management District suspended work on a reservoir to be used in restoration, in anticipation of the sizable costs of a planned state purchase of citrus and sugar farmland between Okeechobee and the preserved portions of the Everglades. Work on the reservoir was later (2010) ordered resumed by the federal judge overseeing reclamation, and the proposed purchase of farmland was scaled back significantly.

At the southwestern end of Florida is Everglades National Park and Expansion, (1,508,580 acres/610,761 hectares), est. 1947. Big Cypress National Preserve and Addition (est. 1974) adjoins it to the north. See National Parks and Monuments (table).


See M. S. Douglas, The Everglades (1947, repr. 1988); C. S. Rom, Everglades (1989); M. Grunwald, The Swamp (2006).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Mapping invasive plant distributions in the Florida Everglades using the digital aerial sketch mapping technique.
She received the colors of UM applied to her forehead, and was presented with a Seminole Indian-style coat that she is to wear each day until her initiation, which was to take place in the Florida Everglades on March 24.
It shows you they can eat huge things." The monster was shot in the Florida Everglades as it posed a risk.
For a year his turkey children were his only companions as he walked them deep through the Florida Everglades. Suffering all the heartache and joy of any other parent as he tried to bring up his new family, he even learnt to speak their language and began to see the world through turkey eyes.
That season City played 62 matches - many of them on pitches resembling the Florida Everglades.
The second in the series, The Last Egret, continues Pierce's adventures and deals with issues of conservation in the Florida Everglades. A documentary about the book was produced by The Education Network and is being broadcast in South Florida.
Mel, consumed by her love for a man who shares her passion but cannot commit to her, finds consolation in her daily walks at an Audubon Society sanctuary near the Florida Everglades. Her daughter Neev, raised by foster parents, does not understand nor can she forgive her mother for abandoning her and deliberately keeps her at arm's length.
Fun Fact: The Florida Everglades are the largest one of these in the United States.
Florida Everglades Orlando Sentinel Interactive PackageBy Orlando Sentinel staff Inject some interactive learning into your day by checking out this multimedia piece by the Orlando Sentinel.
A gruesome sighting in the Florida Everglades of a python undone by an unusual meal.
Much of the funding would go to the Gulf Coast and the Florida Everglades.
Major restoration projects covered here include the Chesapeake Bay system's toxic waste and over-fishing, the Kissimmee and Okeechobee systems in relation to the Florida Everglades and Bay system, which included cleaning up mercury deposits, the restoration of toxic waste sites in Maine, the Shenandoah and the oceans of Newport Bay, and alternative planning and management.

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