The news for Lake Okeechobee, the Everglades' lungs and kidneys, is mixed at best. But at last we understand what's at stake and how to heal the lake.
Recently the shells of golf-ball-size alien snails have been showing up under kite nests. That could mean the parents are teaching their young to select for immature snails they can open. Maybe the water district has learned something from all the bad press and the knowledge that it caused unlawful jeopardy to snail kites. (Audubon has been contemplating legal action but as of this writing is pursuing dialogue.) Maybe Governor Scott, already hugely unpopular even with his Tea Party, will serve but one term.
"One thing I've learned in this job is patience," Gray told me shortly before we went our separate ways.
I'm shorter on both patience and decades than Gray. But if I'm around in 2021, I hope and expect to find: a cleaner Lake Okeechobee; agriculture that doesn't corrupt water quality, wildlife, recreation, and political leadership; inflows and outflows that seep as well as gush; and even more birds--including fledgling Everglade snail kites.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
To keep up with breaking news about the greater Everglades ecosystem and to learn what you can do to help its fish and wildlife, go to audubonoffloridanews.org. If you're interested in getting regular email alerts about the Everglades and about Florida conservation issues in general, click here.