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Pinelands on the edge of the Everglades

The Everglades is the ecological heart of the state of Florida. Prior to European colonization in the sixteenth century, much of the land in central and southern Florida was dominated by tidal marshes, mangrove swamp, hardwood groves, and saw grass.

 Pioneering Everglades conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas would call this ecosystem "the river of grass," and it was largely through efforts of dedicated environmentalists like her that the Everglades was not completely destroyed.

Stretching one hundred miles from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico, and from fifty to seventy miles wide, the Everglades and its surroundings were home to several Native American tribes, including the Tequesta, the Mayaimi, the Calusa, and eventually the Seminole. Yet the widespread project of draining the Everglades following the admission of the state of Florida to the Union in 1845 threatened not only the survival of the tribes but also the future health of the ecosystem.

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