A Plea for the Everglades…

Last week I dragged the Fred and George down to South Florida. We did a great many things in my old stomping grounds and one of the places we visited was the Everglades.

Ok I admit it… I got a bit misty seeing Bill’s labor of love in the park store.

While there, I got to see my buddy Bill Lea’s new Everglades book standing tall in the Visitor Center shop. He’s been working on this project fiercely for so many years and now it’s all grown-up, published, and sitting in the store. Bill’s passion for protecting the Everglades is genuine and inspiring and it was a huge thrill to see his project come to life.

I’ve gotten to know Bill through my time at Tremont and because Bill is the real deal… a truly dedicated conservationist and an amazingly talented but humble man, I wanted to share his plea for the Everglades.

The Everglades through Bill’s lens…

Dear Friends:

The Florida Everglades is in trouble and needs your help!

As many of you know I have spent the better part of the last six years photographing, researching, writing, and designing my new book titled The Everglades – Where Wonders Only Whisper. All of my previous books have revolved around the Great Smoky Mountains – the mountains I love. However, the Smokies are NOT seriously threatened or in dire straits. I wish I could say the same for the Florida Everglades. In this new book I write:

As early as 1881 and certainly ever since, mankind has virtually conducted an all-out war against the River of Grass. Initially motivated by an effort to drain this great freshwater marsh, in more modern times its goal has been to rob the Everglades of its precious life-sustaining water. Today we have hope the tide will turn. The passing of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000 launched one of the greatest environmental reclamation initiatives ever known. The quality, timing, and quantity of the natural flow of water through the Everglades can and must be ultimately improved. However, it will take a conscious commitment to keep all the specific projects moving forward and the entire effort on track. It will not happen by itself.

It is true, Everglades restoration will not happen by itself. The purpose of this book is to connect people to this remarkable place and inspire them to take action. There is such a magic to the Everglades and so many folks are missing it. If people cannot come to the Everglades, then I hope to take the Everglades to them via captivating images and narrative. I want to reveal its vulnerabilities while showcasing its wonder. I hope people will be moved by its beauty and the stories behind the scenes, but most of all I hope they will feel the spirit of the Everglades, take ownership, and then take action. That action might include volunteering, donating dollars towards restoration, urging politicians to support Everglades restoration, and supporting them in their efforts.

In my mind, Everglades National Park is the “Rodney Dangerfield of national parks” – it does not receive the respect or recognition it deserves. In the Introduction of the book I describe the indifference:

Years of dedication come to life in an amazing book from a great photographer.
Years of dedication come to life in an amazing book from a great photographer. This is a stunning piece of work that has been a huge hit with visitors to the park.

One author wrote, ‘It (the Everglades) tends to look a bit yucky…’ Even the trained eye of a visiting National Geographic editor failed to recognize its beauty – how sad. For the first time ever, the splendor of tall mountain peaks, grand waterfalls, or mighty glaciers did not drive the establishment of a national park.

Indeed, the unique mix of tropical, subtropical, and temperate flora and fauna makes for an extraordinary place. In the ‘glades, the beauty may be subtle – but its wonder definitely exists. Thus, the title of the book was born: The Everglades – Where Wonders Only Whisper.

Today, the Everglades struggles to survive. More than 1,600 miles of levees and canals, spillways, and floodgates dominate the landscape of the great marsh. This artificial system has drained, dammed, diverted, choked, poisoned, and sometimes flooded the Everglades to near death. It has totally disrupted the quality, quantity, and timing of the ecosystem’s lifeblood – its water. This must change!

Just as striking images once moved a U.S. Congress to establish the first national park in 1872, I believe captivating images and anecdotal text will lead to a much greater understanding and appreciation of the Everglades. A primary goal is to see a copy of this book placed into the hands of every Florida Legislator, U.S. Senator and Representative, the Florida Governor, and of course, the President in an effort to provide all of these decision-makers a special insight into the Florida Everglades – an insight that will ultimately influence their support for Everglades restoration. However, the book must also end up in the hands of as many ordinary people as possible, including Everglades visitors, Florida residents, and just regular folks across the country. As readers experience the true essence of the Everglades then perhaps they will connect and become active stakeholders – working to secure the Everglades for future generations to enjoy.

If you would like to order your own personal copy of The Everglades – Where Wonders Only Whisper book, please send a check for $28.34 (includes book & shipping) to me at:

Bill Lea
P.O. Box 682
Townsend, TN 37882

I sincerely thank you for your time in considering this request. Hopefully, together, we can make a difference on behalf of the incredible Florida Everglades – a very special place where wonders only whisper.

With Warm Regards,

Bill Lea

Update from Bill on January 17, 2017:

The Everglades is in as dire need as ever.  The big algae blooms and foul water from Lake Okeechobee being forced into the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico made national news this year.  Florida citizens voted to create a large reservoir below Lake Okeechobee and money is available to purchase the land, but the landowner (Big Sugar) contributes millions of dollars to Rick Scott – governor of Florida – so nothing is getting done to resolve the problem.  The entire situation wreaks of politics and money.  As a result, the Everglades, wildlife, the environment, and the people of Florida continue to suffer at the hands of self-servicing politicians and big corporations with all of their money.

Thanks for listening…

Thank you for taking the time to read Bill’s words. I hope you will consider buying his book to help bring attention to the plight of the Everglades. Trust me when I say this man is not about notoriety or profit. You could not hope to find someone more honestly dedicated to this cause. And, of course, please share this with anyone who cares about the Everglades and help us get the word out.


The Tremont Workshop Junkies with the great Bill Lea... and I'm not just saying that because he made me a little place to sleep in his van so I could sleep more on those early mornings heading out to shoot.
The Tremont Workshop Junkies with the great Bill Lea… and I’m not just saying that because he makes me a little place (complete with a pillow) to curl up in his van so I can sleep more on those early mornings heading out to shoot in the Smokies.


  1. Thanks for sharing that. You know I will have a copy of the book when I get a chance. Can’t wait. That’s a great shot of those photographers at the mill!

    1. The book is a gem. You need to grab a copy!

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