In our current climate of growing environmental concern, the condition and protection of national parks has become a recurring part of our 24-hour news cycle. Everglades National Park is Florida’s most famous national park and is as central to the state’s identity as its famous beaches. According to the National Park Foundation, over one million visitors from all parts of the globe visit Everglades National Park every year. The park has also been lauded as a World Heritage Site, as well as an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance. But how did the Everglades go from millions of acres of unprotected swampland to one of the United States’ most important and unique protected natural spaces?
Through the power of bureaucracy, of course!
As August Burghard, Chairman of the Everglades National Park Commission, notes in a 1946 letter, “To The Property Owners Within the Everglades National Park Area”, “The Everglades National Park is not a new thing. It had its beginning in 1929 when the Florida legislature passed an Act providing for the acquisition of the park lands and property in Dade, Monroe, and Collier Counties for the purpose of conveying the same to the United States Government to be used as a National Park.” The letter further details the reasons for the creation of the Everglades National Park and the Commission’s duty in acquiring land by donation to achieve this end. This letter, as well as the minutes from the first meeting of the Everglades National Park Commission are available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room. If you would like to dive into some of the earliest history of Florida’s most famous national park, you can start your journey here