Everglades National Park was created in 1947 to protect a portion of the Everglades from developers who had begun draining the “useless” Everglades to form usable dry land. This national park’s museum now houses over 62,000 diverse biological specimens from the southern Florida wetlands, testifying to the uniqueness and vitality of the Everglades’ interconnected ecosystems.
The biological diversity of this 1.5 million-acre park is now in danger because of climate change, exacerbated by the draining process developers began in the early 1900s. Sea levels, which are now rising much faster in south Florida than they ever have over the past 3,200 years, have transformed fresh water marshes into saline pools, and it is unclear whether animals and plants will be able to survive the change. The early canals developers built usher salt water and sediment in from the ocean, and sediment that follows this easy path has filled freshwater marshes and destroyed freshwater lakes.