6,000 years ago, the Everglades were created when a receding ocean revealed a bare limestone plain that covered south Florida. Fed by heavy rainfall, subtropical plants made their home on the low nutrient soil. Rain falling across central Florida made its way to Lake Okeechobee, which frequently overflowed its southern boundaries, creating a slow moving ‘river of grass’ that once covered most of present-day Dade and Broward counties as well as the southern part of the state. As this ‘river’ slowly made its way towards Florida Bay, impurities were flushed from the water and Florida’s aquifers (large, underground limestone caves filled with fresh water) were replenished. Plants and animals thrived in this very unique ecosystem for
thousands of years. Then the white man came…
The saga that is the tale of Florida’s sugar industry and its effect on the local environment is one of greed and power, of farmers and politically savvy wealthy foreigners, of bribes and shady deals, all wrapped in the southern pride of the tiny town of Clewiston. It reads like the script to a Hollywood movie with no one, Democrat or Republican, being spared from ensnarement in the decade’s long legacy of abuse. Its rippling effects reach residents of both coasts, from Ft. Myers to Jensen Beach, but is primary victims remain the non-human residents of Lake Okeechobee and the long-suffering Everglades.