The Northern Everglades
I created this book for people interested in the natural world, photography, conservation in Florida and the rejuvenating power of time spent in nature. Join me on a photographic exploration through the uncharted landscapes of Florida’s Northern Everglades. Follow the journey of water as it meanders through a matrix of lakes, rivers, sloughs, streams, creeks and wetlands en route to the Southern Everglades. Seeing these waters weave through centuries-old live oak hammocks, towering cypress canopies, dense pine forests and vast prairielands, you can’t help but feel as if you’ve rediscovered a piece of historical Florida unknown to modern man.
This photo documentary reveals the little-known sources of water that bring life to the Everglades of south Florida. More than two dozen interconnected shallow-water lakes lie scattered across the region, presenting myriad unique shorelines and landscapes. These lakes are known as the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, and together with the Kissimmee River and its vast floodplain, form the Kissimmee Basin watershed, the headwaters of Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. As the basin swells during the rainy season (June-October), water from the Chain of Lakes drains into the Kissimmee River and makes the 50-mile run south into Lake Okeechobee, where it eventually flows into the great sawgrass marshes of the Everglades.
Unlike some portions of the Everglades, which are relatively protected from development and further degradation through some sort of conservation status, much of the Northern Everglades run through privately owned farmlands and, in some cases, rural developments. In these areas, many once natural creeks, lakes and rivers have been channelized and the flow of water is now regulated and controlled by canals, ditches, levees and gates. While this delicate watershed has been altered and impacted by humans in many places, some landowners with a deep-rooted conservation ethic have managed their land to keep many of the native habitats relatively natural and intact.
Recognizing both the significance and vulnerability of the Northern Everglades, local, state, federal and private organizations have collaborated in an attempt to restore the natural pathway of water through the basin by backfilling canals and re-flooding historical wetlands and sloughs. These groups are working with landowners and stakeholders throughout the region to help protect the natural beauty of this watershed by creating the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. The creation of the refuge is unprecedented because of its unique use of conservation easements in which the landowner retains ownership and the ability to work portions of the land to raise cattle or crops. If it comes to fruition, the refuge will span as much as 150,000 acres within the Kissimmee Basin. This will help ensure that the Northern Everglades, like no other place on earth, will be protected from development and that the region’s natural allure can be rediscovered by many generations to come.
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