Slide Show: The Changing Everglades – The New Yorker

1938, Daniel B. Beard, a ranger charged with conducting a “wildlife reconnaissance” of the future Florida Everglades National Park, attempted to describe the character of the land:

The southern Florida wilderness scenery is a study in halftones, not bright, broad strokes of a full brush as is the case of most of our other national parks. There are no knife-edged mountains protruding up into the sky. There are no valleys of any kind. No glaciers exist, no gaudy canyons, no geysers, no mighty trees unless we except the few royal palms, not even a rockbound coast with the spray of ocean waves. . . .  Instead, there are lonely distances, intricate and monotonous waterways, birds, sky, and water. To put it crudely, there is nothing (and we include the bird rookeries) in the Everglades that will make Mr. Jonnie Q. Public suck in his breath.

And yet the strangeness of the Everglades made them beguiling. One day, Beard, who was on his way to Coot Bay, at the southern extremity of the park, met a returning visitor on the road. “What’s there to see down there?” Beard asked, feigning ignorance. “Mister, don’t miss it,” the man replied. “Not a damned thing!”

via Slide Show: The Changing Everglades – The New Yorker.

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