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 The Proposed National Park in Southern...

Group Title: Proposed national park in southern Everglades of Florida
Title: The proposed national park in southern Everglades of Florida
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00048896/00001
 Material Information
Title: The proposed national park in southern Everglades of Florida
Series Title: Supplementary bulletin. New series
Physical Description: 20 p. : ; 22 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Fairchild, David, 1869-1954
Florida -- Dept. of Agriculture
Publisher: Dept. of Agriculture, State of Florida
Place of Publication: Tallahassee Fla
Publication Date: <1929>
Subject: National parks and reserves -- Florida -- Everglades   ( lcsh )
Everglades National Park (Fla.)
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by David Fairchild.
General Note: Cover title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00048896
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002447534
oclc - 01699810
notis - AMF2792
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
    The Proposed National Park in Southern Everglades of Florida
        Page 2
        Quotes Wordsworth
            Page 3
        Hammocks like oases
            Page 4
            Page 5
            Page 6
        Two general types
            Page 7
        Idea is vague
            Page 8
            Page 9
        Region is unique
            Page 10
        Temperature figures
            Page 11
            Page 12
            Page 13
        The Marl prairies
            Page 14
            Page 15
        Otters trapped frequently
            Page 16
            Page 17
        Flamingo spectacular
            Page 18
        Passes both houses
            Page 19
            Page 20
Full Text





Southern Everglades

of Florida

(New Series No. 17)


Artcraft Printers, Tallahassee. Florida

Dr. David Fairchild of the United States Department
of Agriculture, internationally recognized botanist, de-
livered this address at the annual meeting of the
American Forestry Association, February 28, 1929:
The more I have thought about the matter the more
I have wondered just why I am here today to present the
claims of the southern Everglades of Florida as a suit-
able area on which to place a national park. This is an
Association of Foresters and the area of which I am to
speak is not ever likely to be interesting as a commercial
forest. It is a vast expanse of grass land cut into a hun-
dred fragments and diversified by oases of scrubby trees
called hammocks and waterways whose shores in part
are covered with impenetrable jungles of mangrove and
in part are sandy beaches strewn with cocoanut palms.
I have known this region from visits to its fringes for
a good many years and it has taken me some time to
realize that the misconception regarding the southern
Everglades which I had when in 1898 I traveled to Miami
with James Ingraham, the first white man to cross them,
still persists in the minds of most northern people. I can
remember with what surprise I heard from Mr. Ingra-
ham's lips a description of the region which did not tally
in any particular with my boyish fancy of the mysterious
Everglades. I suspect that this illusion regarding the
vast stretches of country in the southern Everglades was
still in the mind of the president of your association when
he asked me to present their claims to an audience of
However, since you are a most influential body of men
and have a wide influence upon the opinion of the public
I feel that it is a duty to present to you as clearly as I
can the case of the Everglade National Park proposal.
Before I go into the details of the matter may I be per-
mitted to sketch in a brief way the growth of the appre-
ciation of natural scenery by civilized man and apply this
to the subject bf this paper.
When I first visited Europe in the nineties almost
every traveler made a direct line for the Alps and the
ship talk was largely as to whether you were going to
visit them or not, so great had become the fame of their


beetling crags and snow capped peaks and dark mys-
terious valleys.
This appreciation of the Alps came very gradually
into the life of the European. The great poet Words-
worth in that exquisite book which he wrote describing
the incomparable lake region of England, his Guide to
the Lakes, published over a century ago, describes how
even the Scottish poet Burns in his poem, The Traveler,
pictures the Swiss as loving their mountain homes, not by
reason of the romantic beauty of the situation, but in
spite of the miserable character of the soil, and the
stormy horrors of their mountain steeps.
"No vernal blooms their torpid rocks array
But winter lingering chills the lap of May;
No zephyr fondly sues the mountain's breast,
But meteors glare and stormy glooms invest.
Yet still, even here, content can spread a charm,
Redress the clime, and all its rage disarm."

Quotes Wordsworth
Wordsworth, in his almost pathetic appeal to the
public to prevent a proposed railroad from ruining the
landscapes that he loved so well, announces his convic-
tion in words which sound today like the pronouncement
of a super soul that knew what he was saying just as
Newton knew what he was talking about when he told
his friend Halley that the orbit of a planet must be an
ellipse. Let me quote Wordsworth's own words: "A
vivid perception of romantic scenery is neither inherent
in mankind, nor a necessary consequence of even a com-
prehensive education. It is benignly ordained that
green fields, clear blue skies, running streams of pure
water, rich groves and woods, orchards, and all the ordi-
nary varieties of rural nature, should find an easy way
to the affections of all men, and more or less so from
early childhood till the senses are impaired by old age
and the sources of mere earthly enjoyment have in a
great measure failed. But a taste beyond this, however
desirable it may be that every one should possess it, is
not to be implanted at once: It must be gradually
developed both in nations and individuals."
I feel today as I stand here to plead for the broad
sweeps of saw grass of the Everglades and the weird
mysterious tangle of roots and trunks that make the man-
grove swamps of the Cape Sable region, that these im-


mortal words of Wordsworth have a direct application.
To appreciate the beauty of the Everglades one must
have seen them as Wordsworth saw the wild tarns and
woodlands of Windermere and Ullswater-the lake re-
gion which he discovered but which has since become
one of the most noted regions for its beauty in the whole
There will be those who speed through the Everglades
and see nothing that appeals to them, just as the then
famous Bishop Burnet described the gorgeously beautiful
Alps after having crossed them as "those mountains of
which the very sight is enough to fill a man with horror."
The Everglades of South Florida have a strange and
to me appealing beauty. Their charm partakes of the
charm of the Pacific Islands. Their shell beaches remind
me, with their groves of cocoanut palms, of beaches in
Samoa and the Fiji Islands and Amboina and the other
islands in the Java sea that I have visited. I cannot tread
them without saying over to myself those words of the
Indian poet Tagore, "On the seashores of endless worlds,
children play." They differ from other beaches I know
because, back of the strand, instead of there being moun-
tains which shut one in, there are the vast level prairies
which like the sea in front of one stretch away to the
horizon behind one. You are between a sea of water and
a sea of land.
Dotting the perfectly level plains there are the fasci-
nating hammocks.
In no other tropical region of the world have I seen
anything like these hammocks. The nearest approach to
them I encountered on the so-called Winneba Plains of
the African Gold Coast. These were enough like them to
remind me strongly of the Southern Everglades, although
they lacked much of the beauty that characterizes the
hammocks of Florida.
In the dripping rain forest areas of the tropics one is
bewildered by the density of the lianas and the impene-
trability of the forest vegetation. One can penetrate the
jungle with difficulty and one cannot see far into it.

Hammocks Like Oases
The hammocks, standing out alone on the plains of
saw grass, are like oases in the Sahara. They have some-
thing of the same charm that oases have. One wanders
from one hammock to the other, explores it from all sides,
and in a few seconds enters its wealth of low-growing


trees covered with tropical orchids and those almost as
beautiful bromeliads. There is an almost endless series
of. these hammocks. It is the grouping of these low
rounded masses of vegetation scattered fortuitously over
the level plain that make the Everglades. They always
remind me of great oaks scattered over a level landscape
as one sees them in England, though the comparison is
somewhat far-fetched.
When these hammocks come down to the water's edge
they merge into those strangest of all the plant associa-
tions of the world-the Mangrove Swamps.
I say strangest, for my memory goes back to the first
descriptions that I ever read of the tropical plant life'of
the great Malay Archipelago. The noted bontanist Hab-
erland made in the early nineties a trip to Java and
wrote up his impressions in a book that had a tremendous
sale in European countries. He called it Eine Botanische
Tropenreise. His chapter eleven, on the Mangrove, I
read as a student in Bonn with great eagerness. In it he
remarks that "the vegetation of the Mangrove belongs
to the most remarkable of all the plant associations which
the tropical world has to present." I went to Java and
saw the mangroves there. I visited Siam and Ceylon and
traveled out to New Guinea. I have been twice on the
coast of Sumatra and I have coasted along the islands
of the Fiji and Samoa and the Hawaiian groups, but no-
where have I seen such magnificent mangrove vegetation
as that which characterizes the Southern Everglades of
Florida. Some years ago there visited me in Miami a
noted Japanese botanist from the Liu Chu Islands off
Formosa. He had been all over the Oriental tropics, and
when I took him into some of our Mangrove swamps
here he literally gasped, for he had never seen anything
approaching the tall sixty and eighty feet avicennia trees
that made up a part of the mangrove vegetation on Bis-
cayne Key-now a thing of the past. In the island of
Ceram, one of the least frequented islands on the Java
Sea, I once photographed the buttressed trunks of a man-
grove tree, and it was later published in the Journal of
Heredity and attracted so much attention that it was
copied in the Literary Digest. When I got back to Florida
I found hundreds of trees more remarkable than the one
I had photographed in Ceram. The West Indian species
of mangrove, rhizophora mangle, appears to attain on
this coast a greater stature than the rhizophora mucro-
nata on the seashores of the Orient.

Orchids have formed one of the commonest lures of
the tropics and no picture of them is complete without
these gorgeous epiphytes with their wonderful often
fragrant flowers. I once collected Vandas in the moun-
tains of Java and with them decorated a house for
Christmas. I botanized with the great orchid collector
Andre in the coastal plains of Columbia. I have just re-
turned from the table lands of North Sumatra, but
nowhere in all my experience have I seen greater num-
bers of orchids, or more magnificent specimens, than
abound in the hammocks of Southern Florida. I was
guilty once of dragging some fine specimens from the
Everglades and fastening them to live oaks in my own
little hammock and today there are seventeen flower
stalks four feet long rising from three specimens of Onci-
dium luridum. So beautiful are these orchids and so
near to the dooryards of a hundred thousand people that
if something is not done soon they will be largely stripped
from the hammock trees and perish from neglect in the
private yards of careless citizens.
There is nothing more characteristic of tropical vege-
tation than the abundance of lianas-great climbing
vines that cover the tops of the forest trees. These are
abundantly represented in the mangrove and hammock
vegetation of the lower Everglades. No one can venture
into these hammocks without becoming aware of the
existence of these lianas, which in the dripping rain
forests of the tropics make travel almost impossible
through them. Let any young botanist, for the first time,
make the acquaintance of the Knicker Bean (Guilandina
crista), with its steel-hard recurved spines and he will
appreciate, as he could not possibly otherwise, the liana
vegetation which is the plague of tropical agriculturists.
The epyphytic strangler fig (Ficus aurea), which forms
one of the most striking features of the jungle anywhere
that it or its relatives with similar habit occur, is seen to
perfection in the hammocks of South Florida. I have
never seen finer example anywhere of the complete
destruction of century old oaks by the strangling action
of these ficus species than here in South Florida, and
they are startling to any keen observer who has only
known trees in northern latitudes. As Haberland re-
marked in his Tropen Reise, the idea of the northerner
is that the roots of the tree are simply for the purpose of
fastening the tree to the ground and affording a supply
of moisture for the leaves. These strangler figs show that
roots can become twining strangling organs and the


upright growing roots which cover the ground around
any Black mangrove tree show that roots may serve as
breathing organs just as well as the leaves.

Two General Types
There are two general types of palms, both of which
belong to the handsomest of all natural objects-the
cluster palms, composed of incomparably beautiful
slender stems, sometimes forty feet high, crowned with
feathery plumes of delicate waving fronds, and the single
stemmed palms, which, like the cocoanut and the Royal
palm, raise a hundred feet into the air magnificent masses
of leaves, each leaf of which mass is so enormous that
should it fall and strike you it would kill you as likely
as if a mason had dropped his hod of brick upon your
"I once took that veteran tree man, Prof. Charles
Sprague Sargent of the Arnold Arboretum, out under
some forty-year-old cocoanut palms in South Florida and
he stood there for minutes with his hands behind his back
and then remarked: 'Fairchild, after all, it is the most
beautiful of all trees.' This from a man who was un-
doubtedly the best informed man on trees, who has ever
lived, I consider substantial praise.
"In the area which we propose shall be used for a
national park there are growing the Paurotis wrightii,
a supberb cluster palm, the Roystonea or Oreodoxya
regia, famed as one of the most remarkable of all the
palms, and the Cocos nucifera, or cocoanut palm, which
carries with it more of the romance of the Pacific island
civilization than any other plant. Take it away from
the landscapes of the Pacific and you have robbed them
of their most precious possession. These three palms are
as wild in this region as anywhere in the world. They
have become parts of its landscape. But besides these
there are the thatch palms of genus Thrinax, the charm-
ing silver palm of the genus Cocothrinax, the cabbage
palmettos, sometimes sixty feet tall, belonging to the
genus Sabal, and thousands of acres of the common saw
Of the hundreds of species of evergreen leaved trees
and shrubs that make up the vegetation of this region,
only one man can talk with authority. Dr. John K. Small
of the New York Botanic Garden knows them as Grey
knew the New England flowering plants, and when I
asked him about the preservation of them he wrote me


that they should by all means be preserved from the
destruction that awaits them in the event that these lands
are left for the fires to sweep over them.
Let me quote from an account of Dr. Small of the
Cape Sable region. It will give as accurate an idea as
can be given in words, I believe, of the kind of experience
a botanist may expect who ventures into the wilds there:
"Once within the mangroves, our course for a distance
of about six miles lay through seven creeks and seven
lakes. These were completely hidden one from another,
and each concealed from the traveler until he was
actually upon them. The creeks were natural channels
of deep water, but their courses were tortuous and
progress along them was much impeded by snags, be-
neath on either side, and overhead. For a great part of
the distance, therefore, we had either to lie down in the
boats in order to save our heads or to get out and pull
the boats over snags. But the lakes were beautiful,
shallow, irregular bodies of crystal clear salt water.
Their soft mud bottoms were almost completely covered
with the most matted masses of sea weeds I had ever
seen. This Brussel-carpet-like growth of sea weeds came
to within about six inches of the surface of the water
and was so dense as to support a man walking." (Page
11 of Dr. Small's Cape Sable Region of Florida, New
York, 1919.)
Idea Is Vague
In my conversations with those who know only the
northern forests I have found that as a rule they have
an utterly incorrect impression of what a tropical forest
is. The idea of great stretches of deeply shading giant
trees is essentially incorrect and misleading, for it gives
the impression that the traveler simply walks into the
jungle as one would walk into a beach forest. The above
description by Dr. Small is much more characteristic
of the tropical forest than most descriptions which one
finds in the books of travel. If I wished to give a young
boy an idea of the jungle I would send him into the ham-
mocks of South Florida. In fact I did this with my own
son, and when I took him to the rain forest of Panama
he was trained in the dangers of leaving the trail too far
out of sight and took to the jungles there as a duck would
to water.
To those who live in the shadow of northern forests
it may come as a surprise that Florida has a larger tree
flora than has any other area of similar size in North


America which lies north of the Tropic of Cancer, and in
fact, as Dr. Small remarks, "nearly one-half of the trees
known to occur naturally in North America, north of
Mexico and the West Indies, grow naturally in the rela-
tive small area of the State of Florida." That portion of
Florida which jutts out into the Caribbean and which is
the area we are discussing today, "possesses a tropical
flora made up mostly of West Indian elements and is
closely related to the floras of Bermuda, the Bahamas
and Cuba."
In that incomparable report by Roland M. Harper,
called Natural Resources of Southern Florida, which
everyone who cares to have the facts with regard to this
region about which I am talking should possess, I find a
clear discussion of the interesting and in some ways
unique geology of this strange region, a discussion of its
peculiar soils, a masterly presentation of the much mis-
understood climate, an exhaustive description of its vege-
tation, its peculiar fauna, together with a full 'discussion
of its topography. In the words which I see cited in this
report I note that some of the great naturalists of
America have taken part in the description of the unique
wild life of the region. I see there the work of the late
E. A. Schwartz, than whom there never was a more noted
entomologist"; the late W. H. Dall, nestor of concologists;
our foremost ichthyologist, David Starr Jordan, has de-
scribed its fishes; the late Alexander Agassiz studied its
coral reefs; Frank Chapman has described its mammals
and written of its birds; Thomas Barbour has described
its white-tailed deer; Oakes Ames has written exten-
sively on its orchids; A. S. Hitchcock, the great grass
specialist, has described its grasses; T. Wayland Vaughan
has made more or less exhaustive studies of its man-
grove swamps as so-called soil producers; the late W. E.
Safford has written of the remarkable Paradise Key;
Charles Sprague Sargent, the remarkable creator of the
Arnold Arboretum, has described the mangrove tree,
which of all places in America only occurs here in South
Florida; Barton W. Evermann has described the fishes
of Indian river; Paul Bartsch has written of the bird
rookeries; Lieutenant Willoughby described his canoe
journey of exploration across the Everglades, and the
names of T. E. Layne, A. A. Eaton and others are a part
of the history of this region.
These are all names of men well known by the scientific
world and they are mentioned in addition to those whose
names have for nearly a quarter of a century been


associated with the wild life of South Florida. Of these
I have only to mention Dr. John K. Small of the New
York Botanic Garden, who has written the' flora of the
region, Prof. Charles T. Simpson, whose work on the
land snails and whose voluminous writings regarding
the region are like those of John Burrows from his home
on the Hudson, or John Muir from the Glaciers of the
great northwest. Then there are the names of C. A.
Mosier, whose name will always be associated with the
great black horse flies of the region and with the trails
through the hammocks, and Richard F. Deckert, one
time head of the reptile house in the New York Zoologi-
cal Park, who has studied its peculiar amphibians.

Region Is Unique
That it is a region of peculiar interest to the scientific
world there can be no doubt. Abroad, the story of the
Seminoles and the Everglades is today as firmly fixed
in the imagination of the youth there as are Cooper's
Leather Stocking Novels of the American Indian. And
while it is true that in general the idea which the early
explorers of the Glades spread abroad is no more cor-
rect than were Columbus' wild romances of the islands
he first visited, the fact remains that the Everglades of
South Florida represent a region which is unique among
the geologic areas of the globe.
It is a flat region with no elevation that is over 100
feet. The rock is sandy limestone called Miami Oolite,
and the shell marl which composes vast areas is believed
to be Pleistocene, since nearly all of the shells found in
it are of species still living. It is a great body of newly
made land. There are evidences along its eastern border
of an uplight of several feet in recent times, and at the
very tip of Florida there are evidences of a recent sinking
of the land. Vast areas of the land are submerged during
the heavy summer rains. There are great areas of marl,
almost pure calcium carbonate, whose formation is pre-
sumably due to the action of certain blue green algae,
and there are many miles of beach composed exclusively
of broken bits of shells and others with pure white sili-
cious sand deposits.
Extravagant claims have been made for the fertility of
those areas that are covered with a relatively thin layer
of muck or peat, a layer that is nowhere more than a few
feet of thickness. These soils are worthless without
drainage, and drainage of the area on which torrential


tropical downpours occur is a very expensive business.
Only a fraction of one per cent of the area has ever been
under cultivation, and some that has been cultivated has
reverted to the wild state. The muck and peat lands are
deficient in potash and have recently been shown to have
other peculiarities which are in a measure corrected
by applications of copper sulphate. The marl coastal
prairies have been shown to be deficient in manganese.
That any part of the area we are discussing can be com-
pared in any sense, so far as fertility is concerned, to
the delta of the Nile has been proven to be a myth.
Crops can be grown continuously if the necessary ferti-
lizers are employed; otherwise they soon exhaust the
small amounts of potash in the peat or muck.
The climate of this area is remarkable. No other area
in the United States has a climate like it. During the
winter months it remains practically frostless, with infre-
quent sudden dips in temperature to a few degrees below
freezing. These winter months are months of almost con-
tinual sunshine and freedom from rain, but with a rela-
tive humidity of the atmosphere of about 80 degrees. It
is the balmiest winter climate that I am familiar with
after thirty years of travel and study of climates through-
out the world. It is a bit of Caribbean climate near
enough to the cold waves which sweep our Southern
States to get some of the invigorating character which is
lacking in the coastal regions of Cuba or Jamaica, and
it has none of the unpleasant chilliness of the Mediter-
ranean climate nor the harshness of the desert climates,
nor the cold dampness and early morning haze of the
mountain climates in the tropics. The calcareous rocky
substratum has given to it that character of peculiar
cheerfulness which has long been associated with lime-
stone countries. The veteran soil chemist, Hilgard, of
California, long ago remarked on the invariable influence
of a limestone country upon the civilization which grows
upon it. This area of South Florida possesses one of the
most remarkable winter climates in the entire world.
This feature forms one of its main appeals.

Temperature Figures
The maximum temperature rarely reaches 95 degrees
F., and the lowest minimum, which comes at dawn and
lasts for a few minutes only, is about 25 degrees F.
These minima are of seldom occurrence, ten years usu-
ally elapsing between them. There is about as much


difference between the night and day temperatures in
this region as there is between the winter and summer
It is a land of summer rainfall, and from December to
April not over four inches of rainfall a month. The
weather can be depended on in the vast majority of
instances during the winter season. Sixty-five inches is
the average annual rainfall.
Coming to the discussion of the vegetation, let me
quote again for the benefit of those to whom the region
is strange, from Charles Torrey Simpson, who, like John
the Baptist, has been for twenty years crying in the wil-
derness; whose mission has been to point out the rapidly
vanishing glories of the region and who has sincerely
tried to arouse every intelligent man and woman who
has come within the reach of his voice or his writings, to
the terrible significance of those stirring words, "vanished
forever from the planet." When one speaks of natural
beauties-beauties which the fortuitous forces of nature
have taken thousands of years to create-"gone forever"
are ugly words. It has always seemed strange to me that
they have never aroused mankind to action as have the
words "damned forever." If they had we would not be
begging today for the privilege of saving this southern
end of Florida from the sure destruction that waits it.
Listen to these words of Charles Torrey Simpson ad-
dressed to his countrymen, residents of Florida: "We
advertise the beauties and attractions of Florida; we
send out agents and literature to call the people of the
Northland to come and spend their winters or to be per-
manent residents with us. Then we destroy every vestige
of its natural beauty; we cut down the hammocks, drain
the lakes and mutilate the rivers. We clear out the man-
grove borders which nature created to guard our shores
from the destruction by sea during hurricanes, and in
their places build hideous sea walls. The only attraction
belonging to the state that we do not ruin is the climate,
and if it were possible to can and export it we would
do so until Florida would be as bleak and desolate as
Labrador. What natural beauty will we have left for
another generation? What right have we to waste and
destroy everything that nature has lavishly bestowed
on the earth?"
Technically speaking, there are in the area which we
imagine would be most suitable for such a national park
as we have suggested the following types of vegetation:
Small areas of Miami pine land which contain many


endemic species discovered by Dr. Small; beach and sand
dune vegetation, where most of the plants are truly
tropical; salt flats which are the nearest approach to the
so-called salt marshes of the Atlantic coast further north;
cactus thickets or shore hammocks which resemble the
vegetation on some of the Bahaman islands; tropical
hammocks where the temperature seldom if ever goes
down to freezing, and where an amazing variety of plants
occur-hundreds of species, including rare and beautiful
orchids. The great majority of these tropical species
are evergreen and the effects produced on the visitor to
them is of a true tropical jungle on a smaller scale than
the jungle of the dripping rain forests. These tropical
hammocks are being destroyed rapidly. Cape Sable
hammocks, where the marvelously attractive old fash-
ioned mahogany tree occurs (Swietenia mahogani),
which never fails to thrill one by its charming tropical
growth and immense dehiscent seed pods. Key ham-
mocks, which are variations from the tropical hammocks
and where occur the lignum vitae trees which are stun-
ning objects when they are covered with their sky-blue
flowers. The cypress ponds, great areas covered with
dense growths of the pond cypress (taxodium imbrica-
rium), whose ghostly outstretched bare branches and
whose air breathing roots make during the winter season
weird and to the highly imaginative person an almost
terrifying impression. To me it is a thrilling sensation
to trek deep into one of these great cypress swamps and
leave the world of busy, noisy human beings far behind.
The silence, the epyphytes, the pools of water, the
ghostly tree forms and the danger of getting lost are as
thrilling as are the characters of the Australian bush,
where one is always in danger of getting lost and dying
of thirst. The saw grass marshes of which the Ever-
glades represent by far the largest marsh in the world,
where stretches as far as the eyes can see and as flat as
the western prairies, are covered with the tall saw grass
(Cladium effusum) and with a collection of reeds, sedges,
and forty or so species of flowering plants, make up the
background against which the hammocks stand out in
charming relief. Naturally there are many who see no
beauty whatever in these level stretches of saw grass
just as the mountain dwellers have generally scorned the
level plains, but to quiite as many they have an appeal
that is lasting and which brings them again and again
to visit them.


The Marl Prairies
The marl prairies occupy the southernmost end of the
great Everglades and have a marl or finely divided lime-
stone soil instead of a sandy one. These are of very
recent geologic formation and presumably due to the
action of blue green algae operating for a period of say
4,000 years. In these areas the red bay and willow and
magnolia and myrtle occur, and recently these areas have
been utilized extensively for tomato growing under the
influence of additions of manganese sulphate. The man-
grove swamps constitute the most characteristic and in-
teresting type of vegetation of South Florida and are to
be seen best in the region of the so-called Ten Thousand
Islands, where some of the most gigantic mangrove trees
in the world are growing. These mangrove swamps
constitute, with their twenty-five or so species of plants,
one of the most interesting plant associations to be seen
anywhere. Nothing could be more educational to any-
one interested in the behavior of plant species than this
association at the very strand itself, where the sea and
the land meet and where commonly the sea prevails and
nothing but sand and occasional grasses occur. By sun-
rise, in the glare of the mid-day sun, at eventide, by
moonrise, and by the pale light of the winter moon, I
have seen the grostesque forms of the mangrove vegeta-
tion of South Florida, and those forms have made upon
my mind impressions that never fade, impressions that
have the cosmic character which we older people are
always wishing might invade and influence the lives of
our children. If we were to preserve only two types of
the varied vegetation of the tip of Florida they should
be, in my opinion, the vast mangrove swamps and the
tropical hammocks through which and along the shores
of which millions of American boys and girls will some
day wander.
But I am a botanist and I must not forget that the
majority of mankind is little interested in plants except
as they form a sort of background for things that move
and what they call life.
There are still left in the areas which might properly
be selected for this National Park the remnants of a wild
fauna which is unique on the mainland of the United
States. This remnant will soon disappear if not protected
and will increase and become abundant if properly safe-


It includes about forty species of land animals, among
which are the opossum, racoon, bear, weasel, otter, gray
fox, wolf, wildcat, panther, two skunks, several bats,
three squirrels, salamander, nine or ten native mice and
rats, two rabbits and a deer.
Some of these have already become so rare that they
may be entirely extinct. Then there are the manatees or
sea cows, those amazing sea mammals whose formless
bodies at one time started the myth of the mermaids and
which in early Florida days formed an article of food
among the crackers; and dolphins, of course, porpoises
are seen more or less frequently in the sea along the
coast and in the estuaries. I do not need to mention
sharks and even whales and that strange sea monster
(a species of whale) with bones entirely devoid of lime.
Then there are the largest proportion of the seven hun-
dred species of brilliant and fascinating fishes which in-
habit the coastal waters of the region, creating, together
with the tropical sea algae, undersea gardens which rival
in beauty any that are to be seen in the Java sea or Ber-
muda, and the myriads of gar pike, that old gavoid specie
which swarm in the fresh water streams.
No less an authority than Barton Evermann, now the
director of the San Francisco aquarium, is on record as
saying: "I regard Florida as unequaled in the richness
and variety of its attractions for all sorts of sport with
rod and reel."
From the fur-bearing animals of South Florida there
are believed to have been marketed several hundred
thousand dollars' worth of skins a year in the various
markets of the state, which gives some indication of their
Of those strangest of all animals, the alligator and
crocodile, which at one time were so abundant in the
shallow lakes of South Florida, only a remnant remains,
but this remnant is sufficiently large to insure a complete
recovery, it is believed, whenever the shooting of them
is stopped. To one who has never seen an alligator there
is a thrill in seeing one that is out of all proportion to its
characteristics. Whether it comes through the romance
of its ferocity or its ugliness, I am not prepared to say.
I only know that no picture of the Everglades would be
any where near complete without alligators sunning
themselves on the mud bank in the foreground.


Otters Trapped Frequently
The panther is a beautiful animal and is rapidly be-
coming very rare. The wolf may be already extinct.
The bear, which appears to be distinct from the species
occurring in the regions further north, is not so uncom-
mon, and deer are still seen with considerable frequence.
Otters used to be common, and I understand still are
trapped frequently in South Florida.
One thinks of snakes when one sees the water covered
swamps of the Everglades of South Florida, but these
regions are, as a rule, too wet for the true rattlers, and
one sees there generally only the black snake, the king
snake, the large tree snake and the water moccasin. It
is true that in the hammocks and drier regions, not only
the rattler but the coral snake live, and the former is not
infrequently found, but their presence is just sufficient to
give a touch of possible danger to a visit to the wilder
parts of the Glades. Were they a hundred times as
abundant, I doubt if they would represent even then a
danger greater than that of the hundreds of automobiles
between which and behind which we travel thousands
of miles a month in our great cities.
The hammock trees of this region are the homes of the
most gorgeously beautiful and interesting legumes or
tree snails to be found anywhere in the world.
I have left mention of the wild bird life to the last, for
it is the disappearance of the beautiful birds which once
occurred in such immense flocks that dsiturbs my peace
of mind more than anything else. Their songs, their
spectacular life in the air before our eyes, the beauty of
their movements and the charm of their nesting life con-
stitute one of the most remarkable and romantic charac-
teristics of the wild life of this planet.
This region of which I speak is blessed with an abun-
dance of the kind of food upon which some of the most
spectacular of all birds of the world live. The hammocks
are filled with tree snails. The shores are alive with
shrimp and small fish, and the fresh water lakes are filled
with minnows, while thousands of lizards are everywhere
scurrying about through the tall grass without knowing
that a bird from the sky can follow its every movement.
It appears to be a favorite feeding and nesting place
of some of the most beautiful and some of the largest
birds which are to be seen anywhere within the confines
of the United States.


There are, according to H. H. Bailey, who has pub-
lished recently an illustrated book on the birds of Flor-
ida, about 125 species which build nests in South Florida,
and this represents about half of all the species which
inhabit the whole state. Of these birds, the most inter-
esting groups are the cranes, bitterns, herons, egrets,
rails, doves, owls, woodpeckers, whippoorwills, jays and
terns. The ducks, geese, sandpipers, swallows, warb-
lers and thrushes, while visiting the area, do not nest in it.
Taking up the individual species to which an unusual
interest attaches because of their spectacular appear-
ance, perhaps there is no more interesting group of birds
to be seen anywhere in the tropics than the herons. One
of the most magnificent of them all is the great white
heron, a species that once was present in vast multitudes
in South Florida, but now has been reduced to a handful
of breeding pairs. Who that have seen this wonderful
bird can look with equanimity at its extinction? The
snow egret, once one of the commonest birds in South
Florida because of its plumes that ladies choose to wear
in their headdress, has become almost extinct. Its rook-
eries, those marvelous nesting places of hundreds of
thousands of snow-white birds which once dotted the
mangrove and cypress swamps of the region, are looted
every year and the old bird's plumes shipped to Cuba.
The American egret, a larger bird than the snowy egret,
is also of a brilliant white color. These three birds alone,
because of their great beauty, are worth a determined
fight for, and the children of another generation will
bless us if we succeed in saving their rookeries from
destruction. But to these three superb birds we should
add the black crowned night heron, the spectacular wood
Ibis, and the white curlew, with its scarlet beak and legs.
But some of the loveliest of all the feathered wonders of
South Florida seem to have almost, if not entirely, dis-
appeared from the territory of the United States, and
unless some attempt is made like that of Mr. McIlhenny
at New Iberia, La., to bring them back to Florida, they
will never greet the eyes of the eager public, which would
be thrilled by the sight of them as a child is thrilled by
a circus parade. I refer to the scarlet ibis, which, in
Audubon's time, was said to be abundant, and which, as
late as 1888, was seen here; the glossy ibis, now one of
the scarcest water birds found in Florida; the white-
faced glossy ibis, which inhabits the inland waterways,
and the beautiful and striking roseat spoonbill, which
used to be so abundant in the regions south of Miami


that it formed a feature of the landscape and brought
forth once in my hearing the remark by no less a nature
lover than the great writer of boys' stories, Kirk Munroe,
that he hoped, when he passed on to go to some planet
where the lovely spoonbills would gather on the beaches
at sunset as they used to do in the early days of his life
at Coconut Grove.

Flamingo Spectacular
Of the strangest and most spectacular of all the wading
birds, and one of the most remarkable birds that inhabit
this planet, the flamingo, I find it difficult to speak with-
out some emotion. I remember poring over the illustra-
tions of it in Wood's Natural History when I was just
large enough to lie flat on its pages. I can remember
how it appealed to me as one of my favorite birds of the
whole great collection, ranking with the great condor
that I once saw soar over my head on the Cumbre of the
high Andes, and the Bird of Paradise of the Aru Islands
in the Java sea, which I once had as a fellow passenger
on a boat there.
The fact that this superb plumaged bird once was a
frequent visitor to the country just south of where I live,
and probably once upon a time nested there and is gradu-
ally fading from the shores of the Caribbean forever, fills
me with a sense of sadness and apprehension lest this
generation of humans, laboring under one of those great
illusions such as have in the past devastated the world,
will cut roads through every hammock, drain every man-
grove swamp, burn up all the peat deposits, let the fires
destroy all the pines and imagine that the hand of man
can make a better looking world than has the hand of
nature working fortuitously for millions of years and do
this without retaining any of the marvelous forms of life
which chance and the working of natural selection have
brought into existence.
I fear, ladies and gentlemen, we are drifting towards
a busier, a more comfortable, a wiser, but not a more
beautiful existence, when we let the tiller swing, and fail
to look ahead and see our own country as a densely built
up China-like one of buildings, streets, roads, and side-
walks. "The Sidewalks of New York" was a great song,
but who would care to have it become the ideal of our
American children as it is perfectly possible of becoming?
How many Chinese children are happy outside of the
narrow streets in which they have spent their lives? How


many "Bowery" kiddies grow up with a keen appreciation
of the higher beauties of landscapes?
What has all this to do with the proposal of a national
park in South Florida? Just this. It is an attempt to put
into your minds the facts with which our waking hours
are pestered and our day dreams disturbed-those of us
in South Florida who see the trend of development there.
The veteran senator of Florida, the Honorable Duncan
U. Fletcher, introduced in January a bill to authorize the
Secretary of the Interior to investigate and report to
Congress on the advisability and practicability of estab-
lishing a national park to be known as the Tropic Ever-
glades National Park in the State of Florida, for the bene-
fit and enjoyment of the people of the United States and
to preserve the said area in its natural state.

Passes Both Houses
"This bill has passed both houses of Congress and will,
I am assured, become a law and the National Park
Service will delegate some of its best men to make a
survey of the areas and pick out those which they believe
suitable and make their report to the forthcoming Con-
gress, which we hope will authorize the National Park
Service to receive the custody of those lands which are
determined upon as suitable and make of them a national
park with all that the name implies, with fire and game
The national government will not purchase any of
these lands in case areas within the suggested confines
shall be owned privately. The state must set the neces-
sary legislation in motion, provide for a special committee
and give to it certain powers of condemnation so that in
the end a clear title to all lands can be secured by the
state and the whole area officially turned over uncon-
ditionally to the federal government for all time. Just
what the confines of this area shall be is a technical
matter which will be decided by the experts of the
National Park Service who are familiar with all the diffi-
culties of park administration.
Of one feature we feel rather confident, that the
region, being perfectly flat and with splendid air con-
ditions at all seasons over it, constitutes an ideal flying
area-an area that will be easily policed and inspected
quickly whenever occasions arise.
Gentlemen of the American Foresters Association, I
bespeak for this proposed national park your hearty


support. It will be the only national park which is open
to the tourist and weary city dwellers throughout those
dreary winter months when snows and rains shut them
out of the other parks. Today 175,000 people gather in
the Miami region every winter; some day this number
may reach a half a million, and of these, many thousands
will make the tour of the Tropic Everglades and in pro-
portion to the imagination they possess and the success
with which the park there develops, carry north with
them lasting sensations from its great broad stretches of
saw grass and its strange mangrove lined beaches and
its cocoanut planted shores, of a strange and fascinating
region filled with wonderful wild life utterly unlike any
other within the confines of the United States.
As spokesman for the Tropic National Park Associa-
tion, the credit for whose origination should be accorded
to Ernest F. Coe, whose indefatigable energy and devo-
tion to the idea has brought the matter before the coun-
try, I attempted to get the opinions of some of the fore-
most thinkers of the country who were more or less
familiar with the area suggested.
Without exception their responses were not only favor-
able, but enthusiastic, and while it would not be in good
form before the investigation of the National Park Board
is completed to give out these letters, I am at liberty to
report that they carry the weight of an opinion which is
not only critical but constructive.
I trust that my feeble presentation of facts may help
those of this great association, who have heard it, to an
understanding of the proposal, since it is a matter of
national interest.

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