– President Truman Dedicates Everglades Park – December 6, 1947 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
This day in 1947, in the midst of Post-War reconstruction and upheaval, President Truman dedicated the Everglades National Park, an immense area of land at the southern tip of Florida and turned over to the National Park Service by Governor Caldwell of Florida.
Most national parks preserve unique geographic features; Everglades National Park was the first created to protect a fragile ecosystem. The Everglades are a network of wetlands and forests fed by a river flowing 0.25 miles (0.40 km) per day out of Lake Okeechobee, southwest into Florida Bay. The park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America and contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere. Thirty-six threatened or protected species inhabit the park, including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, and the West Indian manatee, along with 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles. The majority of South Florida’s fresh water, which is stored in the Biscayne Aquifer, is recharged in the park.
A movement began as early as 1916 to preserve the land and make it available for future generations. In May of 1934 an Act was passed to authorize a park to be established and that the land be acquired by public or private donation.
And finally on December 6th, the land became known as The Everglades National Park:
President Truman: “Here is land, tranquil in its quiet beauty, serving not as the source of water, but as the last receiver of it. To its natural abundance we owe the spectacular plant and animal life that distinguishes this place from all others in our country.”
Here is that dedication, as it took place 74 years ago today.
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