Everglades: Outside and Within

Everglades: Outside and Within

by Marion Belanger
     
 

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The Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness left in the continental United States. It was established as a national park in 1934 when the National Park Service set aside approximately 2,354 of the estimated 5,000 square miles comprising the original Everglades. Today, the national park is a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a

Overview


The Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness left in the continental United States. It was established as a national park in 1934 when the National Park Service set aside approximately 2,354 of the estimated 5,000 square miles comprising the original Everglades. Today, the national park is a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance. The park even includes a Nike Missile Site that is on the U.S. Registry of Historic Places.

More than one million people visit the park annually, but vast changes have drastically altered the natural landscape they see. Few visitors realize that, for more than a century, the state and federal governments have constructed drainage canals and ditches to redirect some 1.7 billion gallons of water per day toward the Atlantic and Gulf coasts in order to support agricultural pursuits and large-scale urban and suburban development. The ensuing conflicts over water and the "best" use of land-between preservation, restoration, and desecration--have led to a curious blending of natural and human landscapes that are both around and inside Everglades National Park.

After reading The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, and with a Guggenheim Fellowship in hand, Marion Belanger headed south to the Everglades to discover for herself what the writer had seen and so vividly captured in prose. Belanger went to find wilderness, because that is what a traditional national park is supposed to promote. Instead she found a puzzling dichotomy: visually, it is often hard to know whether one is outside or within this "natural" sanctuary, thus blurring the lines between what is natural and what is not.

Although Belanger remains the curious observer, it becomes apparent that, in hindsight, the Everglades is an environment not meant for human touch. In her photographic sequence we see the pull between commerce and human enterprise and the need for boundless wilderness. Ultimately nature and culture are inseparably intertwined, as seen in the Everglades both from outside and within.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Belanger's is the first study which looks at the Everglades as a whole, not just the national park, but an expansive landscape, from Lake Okeechobee down to Florida Bay, and including the Nike Missile Site, water control management systems, and voracious land development. The entire region is now a 'built' environment of highly managed parks, canals, and sugar cane and citrus agriculture. Informed by her intuition and mindful of the delicacy of atmosphere in the low, flat plain of the Everglades, Belanger's photographs deftly capture this unique and challenging environment."--Verna Posever Curtis, Curator of Photography, Library of Congress

"An exquisitely tragic portrait of one of the United States' most unique living systems. Belanger has captured both the unique beauty of the Everglades and the damage that has been visited upon those grassy waters. Her focus on the boundary between that which is outside and within the lands designated as a national park is poignantly imaged in a direct and perceptive vision."--Martha A. Strawn, author of Alligators, Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781930066854
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
10/01/2009
Series:
Center Books on the American South Series
Pages:
80
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author


Marion Belanger teaches at Wesleyan University. Her photographs are in numerous collections, including the Corcoran Museum of Art, International Center of Photography, and Library of Congress. In addition to a Guggenheim Fellowship, she was an artist-in-residence at Everglades National Park.

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