A modern-day adventure through the heart of Florida
"From now on, I'll paddle the Kissimmee beside the ghosts of raucous cowboys, cumbersome paddle wheelers, marching soldiers, and lurking Indians."--Sandy Huff, author of Paddler's Guide to the Sunshine State
"Alderson uses his substantial reporting and photography skills to bring us a story of environmental destruction and restoration. I learned a lot about places I've visited dozens of times but never fully understood."--Willie Howard, outdoors editor, Palm Beach Post
The Kissimmee Valley, which includes the Kissimmee chain of lakes and Kissimmee River, covers an area from Orlando to Lake Okeechobee. The headwaters and grand gateway to the Everglades, the area is the domain of the alligator and bald eagle, snail kite and spoonbill, stretching more than 100 miles through central Florida.
Between 1960 and 1971, the Army Corps of Engineers straightened and diverted the river’s flow to control persistent flooding. These alterations shortened the length of the Kissimmee, significantly reduced wildlife populations, and created a lucrative real estate market that further threatened native species. In 1992, Congress acted to restore the river to its original flow.
In the spring of 2007, Doug Alderson joined an expedition down the Kissimmee chain of lakes and the newly restored river. Chronicled nightly on local television, the group witnessed firsthand the recovering bird populations, spotted otters, turtles, alligators, and other wildlife, and revealed to thousands of viewers the hidden beauty of this part of Florida.
In New Dawn for the Kissimmee River, Alderson uses this twelve-day paddling excursion as a thread to explore the history and ecology of the region, while highlighting the most successful restoration project of its kind in the world, the model for the overall Everglades restoration plan.
Doug Alderson, former associate editor of Florida Wildlife magazine and current Florida Paddling Trails Coordinator for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, is the author of Waters Less Traveled and The Ghost Orchid Ghost and Other Tales from the Swamp.
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"A chronicle as enthralling and meandering as its subject, New Dawn for the Kissimmee River is one of those increasingly rare species of nature books infused with (gasp!) optimism for the environment."