Over the New Year’s holiday, Ambassador Mo and I paid a return visit to one of our favorite National Parks – The Everglades, which is the third largest national park visited by one million people annually, and the largest subtropical wetland in the United States. Like so many other tourists from around the world and the United States, we walked the popular Anhinga Trail and marveled at this fragile ecosystem that is home to so many endangered species, flora and fauna. Alligators, crocs, anhingas, cormorants, purple gallinule, and wood stork peered at us and beckoned for a photo-op. (See: “Snowbirds Migrating to Free Birds, – A Compelling Journey of Body & Spirit.”)
I’d like to think conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, who dubbed The Everglades the River of Grass in the 1940’s, and ourselves were trailblazers for President Barack Obama who visited The Everglades for the first time later this year on Earth Day and marveled at the wonders of the Anhinga Trail. Politics aside, Obama took the opportunity to naysay climate change-deniers and address the risk rising seas pose to this fragile ecosystem, our health, environment, tourism, and Florida’s economy. (See: “Obama in Everglades: ‘Climate change can no longer be denied’.”)
On the positive side, a 2.2 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan has been earmarked by the Obama Administration and authorized by Congress to renew water’s more natural system in The Glades. In addition, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas cottage in Coconut Grove, Florida has been designated a national historic landmark by the National Park Service.
So, don your sneakers and join in the crocodile rock down the Anhinga Trail on your next vacation! You never know who/what you’ll meet on the trail.
By, Susan Sacirbey
PHOTOS: Personal collection and AP Photo/Susan Walsh