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Video highlights from America's National Parks

The Everglades’ journey down the Florida peninsula weaves a tapestry of ecosystems found nowhere else in the world

Location: Florida

Established: December 6, 1947

Size: 1,542,526 acres

This is a place like no other. Established in 1947 to preserve the biological diversity and resources of the Everglades ecosystems, Everglades National Park protects 1.5 million acres of Florida’s southern tip. Most of the primeval landscape—a mix of freshwater and coastal prairie, mangroves, marshland, pine and cypress woods, and the waters and islands of Florida Bay—is a federally designated wilderness (the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States).

Famously called a “river of grass” by Florida writer and environmental activist Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the hundred-mile-long Everglades ecosystem once flowed freely from Lake Okeechobee in south-central Florida to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay.

Although the park is a federally protected area at the downstream, southernmost portion of the Everglades, upstream development and agribusiness continue to diminish watery habitats (home to abundant wildlife, including tropical wading birds and the endangered Florida manatee).

To help restore water flow and preserve one of eastern North America’s last remaining grassland and longleaf pine savanna landscapes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service established the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area in 2011.

Global interest in preserving the Everglades ecosystem has led to the park’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site and International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance, and a specially protected area under the Cartagena Treaty.

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