No One Thing - Summing Up

It is awful hard to say what is taking the Everglades down: however, I am thoroughly convinced that there is no one thing doing it. It is a combination of many different problems. With the Glades being so different from any other place, I seriously doubt there is a scientist or anyone else that really has all the answers.

I would say the two lead problems for the southwest part of the Everglades would be the cutting off of the rainwater from The Glades that once flowed so freely into The Islands. The reason this hurts so bad is the reduction an in some places elimination of brackish water. Like I said before, the food chain for the entire Everglades comes from the brackish water country, The Islands and the Mangrove Mainland. Without the rainwater which has been cut off there is not enough brackish water for the wildlife and their habitat to survive. It is just that simple.

The second problem is the stopping of burning of the wet marshes, The Islands and the Mangrove Mainland. In my opinion, stopping the burning of the marshes has hurt far more than has been recognized and is definitely going to soon be too late to start back. There are many little creeks running from the rivers and passes out into the marshes. Before the burning stopped and the little creeks were kept open by us using them, fish, especially snook, went up the creeks and into the marshes to feed. Burning helps keep the food there for them to feed on.

During the rainy season The Glades are covered with water leaving very little feeding ground for the wildlife. At this time it is very important that the marshes in the Mangrove Country are burned, to take the place of The Glades when they are under for wildlife feed grounds. Otherwise, they only have the shore line, oyster bars and mud flats to feed on.

There are some problems with the entire Everglades that we haven't directly brought on ourselves, especially the ducks and birds that once migrated here from other states. If I told you how plentiful the birds and especially the ducks were here in the and 40s you probably would not believe me. In the summer months we only had mallard ducks which we called summer ducks, starting in October, there were many different kinds of ducks migrating into the Everglades, especially into the southwest part of the Ten Thousand Islands. Every day you could see them flying high in flocks coming down from the north. At night they flew low just over our house and there were so many they would actually wake us up. Every bay in this country was simply covered with 'blue bills' which we called 'bay ducks'. Coots were so thick sometimes at night that we never had to use a gun. At night we just stuck a dip net over the side of a boat and scooped them up by the dozen and some caught them with their nets.

Birds, by the thousands, especially the heron family, egrets and others were flying across the Gulf from other areas. Today, I never see a blue bill duck which were so plentiful yesterday. Actually other than very few mallards (summer ducks) I very, very seldom see a duck of any kind.

We have a very thick grass, called Coot Grass, that grows on the bottom but reaches to the top in the shallow bays and ponds in the marshes. Not only do ducks thrive on it but so do frogs, fish and 'gators. This grass will only grow in fresh water. Because of the rainwater being cut off and the water too salty we seldom see it anymore.

Because of so much rain in '95 the grass came back strong and there were more ducks and coots than I have seen in years. As far as the ducks, coots and other birds not migrating to the Everglades anymore, it could also be that someone, wherever they were coming from, has played hell with their habitat and habits there.

I am no scientist or no big time engineer. I am only an old 'gator hunter who spent a lifetime in the Everglades we are about to lose. I do have a lot of good common sense about the Everglades that I have lived in for 76 years. I know but very little about the billion dollar water project they are trying to put together. A project so expensive and time consuming probably taking 15 to 20 years to complete that it may be too late to help. While we are trying to see this project through the Everglades will still be going down.

Photographs at this Site Provided by Oscar Thompson

Totch Brown

The Everglades

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