Referred to as the “River of Grass,” the Florida Everglades is one of the world’s largest wetlands. However, they were once much larger. Throughout the 20th century, the region was drained for agriculture and development, and canals and levees were built to manage the water. The area that is protected as a national park, established in 1947, is a fraction of the original extent of the Everglades.
The Everglades is essentially a wide, slow-moving sheet of shallow water, hence the name River of Grass. The water originates at the Kissimmee River in central Florida, drains into Lake Okeechobee, then out into the Everglades. A rich variety of plant and animal habitats occupy this very flat terrain—even small water level changes significantly impact these communities.
Much of the development in the Everglades started long before the Space Age, but notable land changes occurred within the satellite era. This series of Landsat images shows the urban development of the Miami metropolitan area, agriculture, and the extent of land protections of southeastern Florida.
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