South Florida’s most pressing environmental issues—centered on our precious Everglades—have now moved into the national spotlight with a six-part series scheduled to start in April nationally and on local PBS stations. Boca mag has a long history of covering the Everglades and I am thrilled that the stunning “Battleground Everglades” will drive the subject home, literally.
The series is narrated by South Florida environmental activist and travel company owner Charles Kropke (pictured above), whose interest in South Florida’s natural world began when he was in high school in Fort Myers and has consumed him ever since. Kropke, now 53, also owns a family of experiential travel companies (Dragonfly Expeditions that specializes in “uncommon” South Florida Adventures and Margaritaville Travel Adventures affiliated with the Margaritaville brand, among others.)
“When I came to Florida I was 11 years old…I remember at that time the beauty of old Florida was still really strong,” Kropke said when I talked to him about this series. “I’m not actually against development—I just think there are probably zones we need to keep wild and beautiful.”
“One hundred some years ago we understood that the Everglades was a waste of land; that was the predominant understanding [but] we’ve come full circle on that. We realize that can’t be done. It shouldn’t be done. So now we have to correct the mistakes we made back then.”
Kropke says the “Battleground Everglades” series “unravels” the main issues in a comprehensive way, from looking at excess water and the algae problem in Lake Okeechobee to invasive species, sea level rise, and the effects of habitat destruction, among other issues. Kropke will tell you that our very drinking water is at stake if we can’t restore the Everglades.
“Florida has this super abundance of water,” he said, “And we take it for granted. But we can’t take it for granted because if water levels continue to drop, it will stop the seeding of the clouds which gives us the annual rainfall and we will lose the surface of water that sits on the Everglades, evaporates, rises into clouds, seeds clouds, and helps make rainfall—without that surface water evaporating, we will have desertification.”
That is just one of the looming crises facing Florida, and what happens in Florida may be a template for what happens around the world.
Kropke wants to keep the issues front and center, “maybe motivate some people to take action, to galvanize some support. Television is still a good medium to entertain and inform and there are a lot of great voices that we interviewed. We raised some issues that are near and dear to my heart.”
And mine as well. In fact, I say this series is required viewing—and we’ll be right there with you (we caught a preview a few weeks ago). We’ll also be talking at length to Kropke in an upcoming issue of Boca magazine.
The six-part series will air on Earth Day, April 22, on WXEL from 3 to 6 p.m. and on WPBT from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on April 1, 8 and 15. The series will air nationwide on public television stations beginning April 7 (check local listings for days and times) and on the national public television WORLD channel Sundays at 12:30 to 1 p.m. ET beginning April 8 (check local listings).