The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 4, 1997 · Page 11
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 11

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Thursday, December 4, 1997
Page 11
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r 12A THE PALM BEACH POST THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1997 The Everglades National Park: 50 Years ijr .xvyi wvs vsw.i (v i Everglades National Park Timeline 1905: Audubon Society warden Guy Bradley of Hypoluxo murdered in Everglades. 1928: Activist Ernest F. Coe writes National Park Service director, outlining park proposal. December 1928: Florida's U.S. Sen. Duncan B. Fletcher introduces bill to establish park. 1930: Inspection party comes to Miami to decide on areas for inclusion. May 10, 1934: Congress authorizes park. May 30, 1934: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs bill authorizing park. It will take 13 years to acquire land and define park boundaries. Dec 6, 1947: President Harry Truman dedicates park. 1952: Park's boundaries defined at 1.2 million acres. 1958: Park expanded to 1 .45 million acres. Oct 26, 1976: United Nations designates park as Biosphere Reserve. Nov. 10, 1978: Congress designates 1.3 million acres of park as protected wilderness. Oct 26, 1979: United Nations designates park as World Heritage Site. October 1988: U.S. officials file lawsuit against state regulators and water managers for allowing agricultural pollution to harm Everglades. Dec. 13, 1989: Everglades Expansion Act adds 107,600 acres. July 1991: State and federal officials decide to convert 35,000 acres of farmland into man-made marshes to cleanse water draining off sugar cane and vegetable fields. Sugar growers sue state over plan. August 1992: Hurricane Andrew ravages park; park reopens four months later. 1993: Lawsuit between government and sugar growers settled. 1994: Florida Legislature passes Everglades Forever Act; plans to clean up Everglades water. February 1996: Vice President Al Gore announces proposed seven-year, $ 1 .5 billion effort to accelerate restoration. May 1996: Congress provides $200 million for restoration. November 19: Voters reject penny-a-pound tax on sugar farmers that would raise $900 million to clean Everglades. November 1997: President Clinton signs bill naming park wilderness area for Marjory Stoneman Douglas and new visitor center for Ernest F. Coe. December 1997: Park celebrates 50th anniversary. Source: Everglades National Park President Harry Truman receives a gift from Seminole Indians during the dedication of Everglades National Park in 1 947. Park sprang from idea to protect birds EVERGLADES I I From 1A Marjory Stoneman Douglas is history's face of Everglades 7 V, V, .. ',f - ... ,. . , ? . , I When the federal government took on water managers in the 1980s over pollution of the Everglades, reporters and scholars from around the world sought out Douglas' sage voice. She was in her 90s. Douglas is now 107V2. She is frail, nearly deaf and all but blind. As her beloved Everglades National Park reaches its half-century mark, so does River of Grass still selling 10,000 copies a year. "There are no other Everglades in the world," it says. "They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the Earth; remote, never wholly known." Douglas still lives in the wood-and-stucco cottage she moved into in 1926. When she is gone, the state officially will make it a historic site. Unofficially, it already is. ,mlv -j?" National Park Service rangers greet tourists from a chickee-style entrance station at Everglades National Park in this historic photo from the National Park Service. The first rangers in what is now Everglades National Park were paid with private money to prevent poaching of egrets. The bird's white feathers were prized for hats. . , . v-. ,M W1-.V vived the storm, and new vegetation rapidly overtook felled trees.' The park reopened less than four , months after the storm. Once again, the Everglades had survived the fury of nature. Assaults by civilization have been more devastating. They are as palpable perhaps more as when President Harry Truman rode up U.S. 1 to the mainland on Dec. 6, 1947, during one of his Key West vacations. ; There, on a wooden platform, and with 57-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas, chronicler of the Everglades, at his side, he; dedicated America's newest national park. ; ', "Today we make the achievement of another great conserva- tion victory," Truman said. "We have permanently safe-! guarded an irreplaceable primitive, area." Fifty years later, that is still to be determined. , J, v n.n - ,f -rr . .. .... IV A w iei: s. . . U ' ..5.: ' j i A.. When Harry Truman dedicated Everglades National Park in 1947, Marjory Stoneman Douglas was on the platform. She was 57 and had just published Everglades: River of Grass, a seminal work in the literature of ecology. When da environ- Dougas mentalists mobilized in the 1960s to save the Everglades, Douglas helped lead the movement. She founded the 5,000-member Friends of the Everglades and, wearing her trademark floppy hat, went nose to nose against "stupid" developers and government agencies. She was 80. Loxahatchee reflects Fla.'s The northern Everglades, which once sprawled to Lake Okeechobee, have gone to sugar fields and neighborhoods. Only one piece remains in the shape of a teardrop. The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1951, covers 227 square miles west of State Road 7 from Southern Boulevard to the Broward-Palm Beach county line. A 57-mile levee surrounds classic Everglades environment: marshes, wet prairies, and tree islands from 1 acre to more than 300 acres. The refuge draws 150,000 visitors a year for fishing, boating and bird watching. The headquarters, on SR 7 between Boynton Beach Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue, features an observation tower, observation platform, nature trails and a 5'2-mile canoe trail. Boat 5 'j Once, the Everglades covered 2,700 square miles from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay. The state later drained the northern regions to form the Everglades Agricultural Area sugar- and vegetable-growing areas. Now a giant dike rings Lake Okeechobee. Interstate 75 and Tamiami Trail bisect the peninsula, blocking the flow. Demands by urban South Florida have drawn down the cushion of water. And farm runoff is blamed for compromising its quantity and quality. Parts of the Everglades still exist in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County, state-operated water conservation areas and Everglades National Park. Spanning 1.5 million acres, or more than 2,300 square miles, the park is second among national parks only to Yellowstone, with 9,250 square miles. The east Everglades expansion in 1991 added more than 100,000 acres. It is home to dozens of species, from the ever-tormenting mosquito to the rare Florida panther wood storks and spoonbills, bald eagles and osprey, snails and kites, crocodiles and alligators, sea turtles and manatees, black bears, snook and sea trout, redfish and tarpon. It almost ended up with no egrets. The first martyr By the turn of the century, egrets and other birds of the Everglades were being hunted almost to extinction; their feathers were in demand as hat decorations. The fledgling Audubon Society was able to push through state laws to protect the birds, but Florida couldn't afford wardens, so the society raised money to hire four. One was Bradley. "That man Bradley is going to be killed sometime," a famed bird expert who had toured the area with Bradley said. "He has been shot at more than once, and some day they are going to get him." To another visitor, Bradley advised he was in pursuit of a nasty poacher and showed him his pistol. On July 8, 1905, 35-year-old Bradley was found dead. Suspected were Walter Smith and his two sons, habitual game violators. The killing was a national sensation. Witnesses said Bradley shot first. But furious residents torched Smith's house. Five months later, a grand jury in Key West ruled there wasn't enough evidence to try Smith. "Every movement must have martyrs, and Guy Bradley is the first martyr to the cause of bird protection," the national head of Audubon lamented. Bradley left a wife and two sons. A marker in the park says he "gave his life for the cause to which he was pledged." The murder, and that of another Audubon warden three years later in Charlotte Harbor, helped boost public support for bird protection. Conservationists targeted the consumer end of the slaughter New York's garment district and pushed through a state law there that banned use of feathers in hats, despite the efforts of lobbyists and cries of industry officials that thousands would be left jobless. After the industry began hw'nVr S A ranger watches a black bear part of the park's conservation H " 'i'i ft. i . T Wm I Refuge still wilder days - , aX Lake . . V Oteechobee Boundary of tcosysiem r. mm,u inino ... Gulf of Mexico National Park 'a A 30 Miles ROB BARGEStaff Artist ramps are there and at the south recreation area, at the end of Lox Road west of Boca Raton. Admission is $5 a vehicle or $1 a pedestrian. Call (561) 734-8303. Stories by Eliot Kleinberg N as it is released in Everglades National Park in September 1965 as efforts. 'We have permanently safeguarded an irreplaceable primitive area.' PRESIDENT HARRY TRUMAN At dedication of Everglades National Park Everglades National Park Anniversary Events Dec 4-6: Employee and alumni reunion Dec. 5: 'Remembering How it Was' panel discussion featuring former park superintendents Dec. 5-7: Everglades City 50th Anniversary Festival Dec 5: HomesteadFlorida City Community Festival Dec 6: Park rededication Park information: (305) 242-7700 Web page: http:www.nps.govever Source: Everglades National Park sneaking the feathers in through Europe, the federal government passed similar laws. But back in South Florida, conservationists argued more was needed than a handful of rangers paid with private money. Soon the movement wasn't just about protecting birds. As South Florida's real estate boom began, and completion of a road from Florida City in 1915 spurred interest in farming the area, the fight became one of preserving a unique ecosystem. Royal Palm State Park In 1916, Royal Palm State Park was established 15 miles southwest of Homestead. In 1930, Congress heard the first call to establish a national park. It would take 17 years of lobbying before the park was dedicated, stalled by the Depression and World War II and revived when the state gave $2 million to buy private lands and donated another 800,000 acres of state lands. In its first year, Everglades National Park had only 7,482 visitors; with improvements to the facilities and approach routes and the increasing significance of the park, that figure is now around 1.5 million a year. Hurricane Andrew, in 1992, caused about $54 million in damage to park facilities and carved a 25-mile-wide scar, downing thousands of trees. But the Everglades has been in the path of hurricanes for eons: Much of its, wildlife sur

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