How You Can Help Everglades National Park Win $250,000 to Finally Repair Damage From Hurricane Wilma

The Flamingo Visitor Center
The Flamingo Visitor Center
Photo by Acroterion via Wikimedia Commons

You love the Everglades, right? Of course you do. We all live in Florida, and we all love the Everglades. It's a river of grass. A unique ecosystem not duplicated anywhere else in the entire world. A true state treasure. 

Would you like to help the Everglades National Park? Of course you would. 

The South Florida National Parks Trust is in the running to receive a $250,000 grant from American Express in a contest administered by National Geographic

The trust wants to restore the exteriors of the Flamingo Visitor Center, a modernist pink building near the Flamingo Marina and one of Everglades National Park's most popular camping areas. It offers visitor and educational information, bike and kayak rentals, and other useful services for nature-seekers.  Which is to say the Flamingo Visitor Center is pretty damn important when it comes to luring people to enjoy the natural wonders of the park. 

Back in 2005, however, Hurricane Katrina and Wilma stormed through the Everglades and damaged the center's exterior. (The nearby Flamingo Lodge was also destroyed during the storm and has yet to be replaced.) The trust is hoping to secure the money to repair the exterior, update the visitor experience, and restore the historic landscaping. 

Here's the thing, though: You have to vote. Visit National Geographic's Vote Your Park page once a day to register your vote for the Everglades. To win the award, the park needs to wind up in the top four. It's currently in eighth place. You have until July 5 to help push it up the leaderboard. 

“Everglades National Park needs everyone to get behind this project, to help restore the Flamingo Visitor Center and create support for a larger rebuilding effort in Flamingo,” says Pedro Ramos, superintendent of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks.

The planned updates would be the first step in a proposed revitalization of the entire Flamingo camping area. The park also hopes to turn the building's former restaurant into a new visitor center and bookstore. There are also plans to replace the Flamingo Lodge with 24 new eco-friendly elevated cottages and 20 eco-tents, build a new restaurant, and add other visitor services. 

But, first things first, the park needs your vote


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