Everglades: An Ecosystem Facing Choices and Challenges
By Anne Ake
Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, then governor of Florida, called it a “pestilence
ridden swamp”. He hated it, and wanted to fix it—make it useful. Marjory
Stoneman Douglas called it the “river of grass”. She loved it and devoted most of
her 108 years to preserving its wild beauty. Broward and others dammed, diked,
ditched, and drained thousands of acres. Douglas and her followers advocated,
beseeched, cajoled, and damned the despoilers.
Anne Ake writes about the focus of their passion in Everglades: An
Ecosystem Facing Choices and Challenges. The book covers the ecology and
history of this long suffering and controversial ecosystem. She emphasizes the
interwoven relationships that make it work.
The author points out that much of the abuse that has been heaped on
the system has been well-intentioned, but ill-informed as to the long-term
results. Chapter six asks, “Can We Fix the Everglades” and begins the answer with:
“We cannot restore the Everglades ecosystem to the way it was 200, 100, or even
50 years ago. It is too late for that. But humankind is an ingenious species. The
same ingenuity that learned to dig canals, build giant pumps, drain wetlands, and
build skyscrapers can repair some of the damage and make the ecosystem
A healthy ecosystem regulates itself. There are, however, no controls on
human technology. Technology has destroyed the balance in the Everglades.
Now, we are faced with the job of making it right again. We must regulate
ourselves.” A discussion of the current restoration attempt follows.
The book provides an informative and entertaining overview of the
Everglades suitable for a wide audience ranging from middle school students to
adults. Maps, charts and more than 100 color photographs illustrate the text. The
majority of the photos were taken by the author.
Anne Ake’s interest in the Everglades stems from living in Homestead for
several years with her first husband, an ecologist. She currently lives in the Florida
panhandle and is working on a book on the Gulf of Mexico. Previous young adult
books include: The Gorilla; The Apache; Hungary, and Austria. Her writing for
adult readers includes the text for Dean Mitchell: The Early Years, a coffee table
style art book, the introduction to Mr. Mitchell’s second book The Beauty of the
Real, and his afterword (ghost written) in a handmade limited edition book with
Maya Angelou. She has written numerous magazine articles on the arts, people,
and nature. She designed and edited Bay Arts and Entertainment, a bi-monthly
arts publication, and published Cool KidStuff, a children’s magazine. Her
photography has appeared in her books and in local and regional publications.