Sanibel-Captiva & Fort Myers Beach, FL  - Vacation Travel Guide

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Sanibel-Captiva & Fort Myers Beach Area Features

The Everglades

Writer and matriarch of Everglades preservation, Marjory Stoneman Douglas writes, “There are no other Everglades in the world... They are one of the unique regions of the Earth, remote, never wholly known.” The United Nations has recognized this uniqueness by listing them as one of the Biosphere Parks.

The slow moving river of grass gently slopes south out of the watershed of the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee. For the most part, its riverbanks are only slightly higher ridges with a lower, broad center where, in the dry season, water depths are seldom over a foot or two.

An elevation change of inches dramatically changes the landscape. Pines and palmettos mark the higher ground, cypress trees denote the deeper waters, and all around these islands of trees are sawgrass and cattail. The Glades are over 60 miles wide and extend 300 miles from the Kissimmee to Florida Bay.

US 41 and I-75 are the only two roads that cut across the southern portion of the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi. One may venture into the Everglades National Park’s Shark Valley, Everglades City or main entrance just south of Homestead that leads to Flamingo. 

The area is home to panthers, alligators, limpkins, purple gallinules and glossy ibis. Cabbage and royal palms, maples, coco plums, bald and dwarf cypress are the punctuations in an otherwise flat, wet prairie. Fifty-six federally endangered or threatened species of wildlife can be found in this vast ecosystem.

In its broadest definition, the Everglades watershed includes the mangrove fringe, Florida Bay and the coral reefs of the Florida Keys. It also includes the uplands in the central interior peninsula from the Orlando area, the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee.

The Glades are subject of the world’s largest habitat restoration project involving thousands of agencies, organizations, researchers and citizens.


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