A Moment in Nature Yellow crowned Night Heron

“Then the sugar people had to irrigate to plant their cane. They back pumped their irrigation water into the lake, along with all the pesticides, fertilizer, dead cats and old boots that the water had absorbed. As the waters around the lake receded, the rich peat used in raising the sugar cane was depleted from an original 30 feet deep to above five feet. It was gradually eaten up by direct exposure to the sun. There were so many peat fires every spring that you got a reek of peaty smoke from West Palm Beach south to Miami. The engineers drained to satisfy the sugar people, then drained some more to satisfy the cattle people, who wanted more dry land to support their dairy herds. The dairy herds produced manure, and the manure found its way into the rivers that flow into the lake. Very soon, Lake Okeechobee was polluted. You could fly over it and see how brown it was. A pernicious weed called the hydrilla began to show itself just below the surface. Hydrilla takes up all the oxygen, and kills the fish.” – Voice of a River by Author Marjorie Stoneman Douglas

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