Benefits of Grass

A slight rustle of saw grass and incessant belches of frogs provide a gentle soundtrack, lulling the Everglades explorer, allowing the natural beauty to instill a serenity that -- KERPLANG! -- explodes into the launch of chaotic white and brown or blue and gray, a flying object springing from the brush and filling the view with spectacular animal magic. An anhinga or heron, maybe a wood stork or hawk, maybe any of dozens of birds still surviving in what's left of the Everglades. The Great Swamp hasn't gone to the birds, it's gone to shit, a desecration begun a half century ago when the Army Corps of Engineers drained the River of Grass to create farmland and dry areas for development.

The farmlands and the new towns not only consumed vast chunks of wetlands, they added new and abundant contaminants while further depleting the water that the farmers and residents now desperately need. Give some chimps pie, and you get a mess. Give humans a planet, same result.

According to Audubon of Florida, which the Everglades Awareness Benefit Concert will help, 80 percent of the nation's endangered and threatened birds depend on wetlands. And, of course, there is a multitude of other life forms besides our feathered friends that rely on swamps and marshes. Humans included.

Of course survival wouldn't be much more than an instinct if life weren't on occasion fun, and this benefit contributes both to the sustaining of life and having a blast. Funds raised through the ten dollar admission go to Audubon of Florida's Coastal Everglades Campaign, which aims to protect the swamp from residential development, water mismanagement, and agricultural assaults in light of the overwhelming population increases faced by South Florida.

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