By Ginny Rotolante, Miami
Places like Shark Valley and Corkscrew Swamp are wonderful, accessible ways to explore the Everglades, infinitely enjoyable for residents and tourists alike. But I have to say that one of my favorite places in Florida is Nine Mile Pond, deep in the wild glades west of Florida City. Because the Everglades is so immense, is it possible to experience the bounty of flora and fauna and solitude that flows through here.
It is these quiet tranquil places, untouched by industry (except the canoe trails in the sawgrass left by industrious canoers), that are a boon to the soul. Such places connect us to something outside ourselves. They help us to value the world around us, the world beneath our feet. We must protect it at all costs. These places inspire us to stretch our minds, to go beyond, remind us to reflect and break free from those false bubbles in which we all live and remind us to be humble and grateful for this exciting, wonderous planet Earth.
More than all that though, we need these lands to literally survive on this planet. Imagine Earth without public parks. Imagine all land is decimated in search of smaller and smaller amounts of resources or else filled with roads and buildings – infrastructure that does not allow for wildlife or the natural beauty of the region, creating a hotter world of blazing concrete and asphalt that doesn’t protect our fresh, clean drinking water and has little to no foliage, which we absolutely need to process carbon dioxide back into breathable oxygen. Imagine the bleakness, the pollution, the slow asphyxiation of lungs, of minds and hearts and souls.
Earth is one single giant enclosed habitat and it’s everyone’s responsibility to maintain. Conserving large tracks of untouched forests and swamps are the best way to do so, lands treated with respect so that they can maintain the balance of our air and freshwater systems. Truly the best two things about public lands are that they are open for all to experience and that they are kept much as they were meant to be — all this at the benevolence of man and government. It takes work and time and money and so much backbone to persevere against the push of mankind. But every effort is worth it. Because to give any one of these places to anything else, would be to lose it forever and never get back yet another bit of wonder.