Once it was a forbidding wilderness of marshland and saw grass that had to be drained and tamed before southern Florida could realize its rich potential. Today the Everglades -- what is left of it -- is surrounded by an urban sprawl of 4.5 million people. Thriving sugarcane farms carved out of its northern reaches drain pollutants into its water; Air Force jets boom over its skies. The 1.4 million-acre Everglades National Park, created in 1947, has become an endangered relic in the nation's fourth most populous state. "Make no mistake," says outgoing park superintendent Michael Finley, "the Everglades is dying."
To continue reading:
Want the full story?
Get TIME the way you want it
Week Digital Pass — $4.99
Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS — $2.99
Year ALL ACCESS — Just $30! Best Deal!
Print Magazine + Digital Edition +
Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com
Learn more about the benefits of being
a TIME subscriber
If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!