Seventy years ago today, in Everglades City, Florida, President Harry Truman mounted a podium for a nationally-broadcast radio address to formally dedicate the new “Everglades National Park.”
Standing behind him were Secretary of the Interior Julius A. Krug; Florida Governor Millard Caldwell; and both of Florida’s Senators, Spessard L. Holland and Claude Pepper. One month earlier, Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ book, “The Everglades: River of Grass,” had been released.
President Truman spoke of the Everglades in religious terms. “For conservation of the human spirit,” he said, “we need places such as Everglades National Park where we may be more keenly aware of our Creator’s infinitely varied, infinitely beautiful, and infinitely bountiful handiwork.” “Here,” he said, “we may draw strength and peace of mind from our surroundings.”
The Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg – who attended a high school named after Marjory Stoneman Douglas – commemorated the Park’s 70th anniversary by observing that “from the very outset, the history of Everglades restoration has been one of struggle.”
“President Truman himself predicted the conflicts ahead, in which our determination to preserve this magnificent and fragile ecosystem would be tested against the demands of those who would exploit or despoil it,” Eikenberg said.
“Public lands and parks, our forests and our mineral reserves,” Truman said, “are subject to many destructive influences. We have to remain constantly vigilant to prevent raids by those who would selfishly exploit our common heritage for their private gain. Such raids on our natural resources are not examples of enterprise and initiative. They are attempts to take from all the people just for the benefit of a few.”
Eikenberg noted that “the vision of those who gathered in Everglades City those 70 years ago has been fulfilled only because of the perseverance and dedicated efforts of those who are determined to preserve it.”
Citing projects like the bridging of the Tamiami Trail and this year’s passage of Senate Bill 10 to expedite the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir in providing badly needed fresh water to the Everglades, Eikenberg observed that the Everglades Foundation is “proud of our role in maintaining constant vigilance because, as Marjory Stoneman Douglas observed, ‘there are no other Everglades in the world.’”
“Everglades National Park, now visited by more than 1 million people annually, has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site and a Wetland of International Importance – one of only three locations on Earth to share all three designations,” Eikenberg noted.
The Everglades Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to leading efforts to restore and protect the greater Everglades ecosystem. Since its founding in 1993 by a group of local outdoor enthusiasts, the Foundation has become a respected and important advocate for the sustainability of one of the world’s most unique ecosystems.
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