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In a nation where natural beauty is measured by its capacity for drama, the Everglades subtly, contentedly flows on. Read Less. This private, reservation-only tour includes an extended minute airboat tour in a customized airboat, specially designed for smaller groups. Sawgrass Recreation Park, where your tour departs from, is an easy minute drive from Ft Lauderdale. Zipping over the Florida Everglades at speeds of up to 40 miles 64 km an hour, your minute private airboat tour includes wildlife spotting and entertaining stories from your experienced captain.
Hear tall tales and true of the Seminole who lived in this wilderness, and of the panthers who shared their home.
Things to Do in the Everglades
Plus you even get to hold a baby alligator, if you dare! Children 3 years and under need not be included in the guest count as there are no additional charges for this age. After arriving at the park at your chosen time, you will board the tram for a 2-hour tour through the Shark Valley section of Everglades National Park.
Led by park trained naturalists, your guides will give you insight into the ecosystem as a whole and will also help point out some of the hidden aspects which help to make this a world renown wetlands. The open vehicles allows you to view wildlife within the Sawgrass prairies on either side of the tram. At the half-way point of the tour, a foot high observation deck gives you an opportunity to enjoy the tranquil vistas of the Everglades, extending outward miles in all directions. A gradual ramp provides easy access to the observation tower deck, and every part of the ramp and deck provide chances to view something different.
Get the ultimate experience of the Florida Everglades on this fun, exciting eco-adventure by boat, kayak and foot!
Need to Know
Your tour is led by an experienced naturalist who is certified by the national park and licensed by the US Coast Guard. Throughout your tour, your guide will teach you all about the history of the area, as well as the wildlife and diverse vegetation. Begin your tour with a boat ride through some of the most beautiful and remote areas of the Everglades National Park.
Once you arrive at your destination, receive a brief safety instruction before getting into your kayak no experience required and exploring the area up close. Paddle your way to Barrier Island Beach, a remote beach seldom visited by others. Here, take a guided walking tour of the area and see the wrack lines, shallow tidal zones, dunes, uniquely adapted plants, mangrove swamps and many different invertebrate species.
After your hike on the beach, get back into your kayak and paddle back to the boat for your return journey. Located just a 1. On this 3. Your tour will begin with a brief introduction on how to maneuver your single-person kayak no experience required. Once you feel comfortable with the kayak, paddle down the lake and arrive at a narrow entryway, where the mangrove tunnels form a canopy approximately 10 feet 3 meters overhead. This is one of the largest mangrove forests in North America! Follow your naturalist guide as you explore the vast and varied ecosystem and keep your eyes out for herons, egrets, ducks, spoonbills, alligators, otters and a variety of fish species.
By , the Seminole in the Everglades numbered no more than Between the end of the last Seminole War and , the people lived in relative isolation from the majority culture. The construction of the Tamiami Trail , beginning in and spanning the region from Tampa to Miami, altered their ways of life. Some began to work in local farms, ranches, and souvenir stands.
These were their bases for reorganizing their government and they became federally recognized in as the Seminole Tribe of Florida. People who kept more traditional ways had settlements along the Tamiami Trail and tended to speak the Mikasuki language. They later were federally recognized in as the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida.
As metropolitan areas in South Florida began to grow, the two groups were closely associated with the Everglades. They struggled to maintain privacy while serving as tourist attractions. They earned money by wrestling alligators and selling craftworks. The two tribes have each developed casino gaming on some of their properties to generate revenue for support, services and economic development.
The military penetration of southern Florida offered the opportunity to map a poorly understood and largely unknown part of the country. An expedition into the Everglades offered the first printed account for the general public to read about the Everglades. The anonymous writer described the terrain the party was crossing:.
No country that I have ever heard of bears any resemblance to it; it seems like a vast sea filled with grass and green trees, and expressly intended as a retreat for the rascally Indian, from which the white man would never seek to drive them. The land seemed to inspire extreme reactions of both wonder or hatred. During the Second Seminole War an army surgeon wrote, "It is in fact a most hideous region to live in, a perfect paradise for Indians, alligators, serpents, frogs, and every other kind of loathsome reptile. He sent his observations to the New Orleans Times-Democrat.
The party encountered thousands of birds near the Shark River , "killing hundreds, but they continued to return". A national push for expansion and progress in the United States occurred in the later part of the 19th century, which stimulated interest in draining the Everglades for agricultural use. According to historians, "From the middle of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, the United States went through a period in which wetland removal was not questioned.
Indeed, it was considered the proper thing to do. Walker to request those with experience in the Everglades to give their opinion on the possibility of drainage. Many officers who had served in the Seminole Wars favored the idea. The Swamp and Overflowed Lands Act ensured that the state would be responsible for funding the attempts at developing wetlands into farmlands. After the Civil War, a state agency called the Internal Improvement Fund IIF , whose purpose was to improve Florida's roads, canals, and rail lines, was discovered to be deeply in debt.
The IIF found a Pennsylvania real estate developer named Hamilton Disston interested in implementing plans to drain the land for agriculture. At first the canals seemed to work in lowering the water levels in the wetlands surrounding the rivers. It made news and attracted tourists and land buyers. Within four years property values doubled, and the population increased significantly. The IIF was able to invest in development projects due to Disston's purchase, and an opportunity to improve transportation arose when oil tycoon Henry Flagler began purchasing land and building rail lines along the east coast of Florida, as far south as Palm Beach in The land bordering the rail lines was developed as citrus farms.
Miami became a prime destination for extremely wealthy people after the Royal Palm Hotel was opened. During the gubernatorial race, the strongest candidate, Napoleon Bonaparte Broward , promoted draining the Everglades. He called the future of South Florida the "Empire of the Everglades".
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Soon after his successful election, he began work to "drain that abominable pestilence-ridden swamp",  and pushed the Florida legislature to form a group of commissioners to oversee reclamation of flooded lands. In they established the Everglades Drainage District and began to study how to build the most effective canals, and how to fund them.
Senate in but lost. Broward was paid by land developer Richard J. Bolles to tour the state to promote drainage.
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Elected to the Senate in , Broward died before he could take office. With the construction of canals, newly reclaimed Everglades land was promoted throughout the United States. Advertisements promised within eight weeks of arrival, a farmer could be making a living, although for many it took at least two months to clear the land.
Working to recover and protect the largest ecosystem in Florida
Some tried burning off the sawgrass or other vegetation, only to learn that the peat continued to burn. Animals and tractors used for plowing got mired in the muck and were useless. When the muck dried, it turned to a fine black powder and created dust storms. The increasing population in towns near the Everglades hunted in the area.
Raccoons and otters were the most widely hunted for their skins. Bird feathers were used in women's hats in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hunters could collect plumes from a hundred birds on a good day. Rum-runners used the Everglades as a hiding spot during Prohibition ; it was so vast there were never enough law enforcement officers to patrol it. Mangrove trees were cut down and replaced with palm trees to improve the view. Acres of South Florida slash pine were cleared. Some of the pine was for lumber, but most of the pine forests in Dade County were cleared for development. Two catastrophic hurricanes in and caused Lake Okeechobee to breach its levees, killing thousands of people.
The government began to focus on the control of floods rather than drainage. The Okeechobee Flood Control District was created in , financed by both state and federal funds. President Herbert Hoover toured the towns affected by the Okeechobee Hurricane and ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to assist the communities surrounding the lake. Control of the Hoover Dike and the waters of Lake Okeechobee were delegated to federal powers: the United States declared legal limits of the lake to between 14 and 17 feet 4.
Sugarcane production soared after the dike and canal were built. The populations of the small towns surrounding the lake jumped from 3, to 9, after World War II. Immediately, the effects of the Hoover Dike were seen. An extended drought occurred in the s; with the wall preventing water from leaving Lake Okeechobee and canals and ditches removing other water, the Everglades became parched. Peat turned to dust. Salt ocean water intruded into Miami's wells; when the city brought in an expert to explain why, he discovered that the water in the Everglades was the area's groundwater —here, it appeared on the surface.
Naturally occurring bacteria in Everglades peat and muck assist with the process of decomposition under water, which is generally very slow, partially due to the low levels of dissolved oxygen.
When water levels became so low that peat and muck were at the surface, the bacteria interacted with much higher levels of oxygen in the air, rapidly breaking down the soil.