When most people think of the Everglades, they picture the sawgrass wetlands and mangroves at the southern tip of Florida. What they don’t realize is that the health of this incredible ecosystem is dependent upon events far to the north. Historically, the Everglades received a steady supply of fresh water from a massive watershed that begins near Orlando, but over the past century—in the name of flood control and agriculture—man has interrupted that flow, most notably at Lake Okeechobee. As a result, the amount of water that reaches Florida Bay, at the southern tip of the state, is less than half of what it should be.
The main goal of Everglades restoration is to send more fresh water south, but this is not as simple as it may sound. Simon and Hannah Perkins—cousins who are part of the third generation of the Perkins family to run Orvis—traveled the length of the Everglades watershed, talking to scientists, conservationists, and fishing guides to see firsthand the work being done and to explore what the future may hold.