I wish first of all to recognize freelance writer William Schemmel of Atlanta, Georgia for his valuable contributions to this book. His experienced and insightful critiques of restaurants, lodging, and attractions in the Florida Keys and Naples will benefit every person who uses this guide. Mr. Schemmel also provided important historical and natural history information that has been included in those two sections as well as the introduction.
Any mention of individuals who helped with this book must also include at the top of the list Claudia Farren, my proofreader, researcher, business partner, and loving wife of 25 years. Just as valuable as Claudia's help with the writing of this book, however, were the long hours she spent walking trails, toting camera equipment and wildlife identification books, and paddling canoes these past years while we explored, enjoyed, and wrote about the Everglades, the Keys, and the rest of natural lands of South Florida.
Similar appreciation goes to lifetime friends Jim Schroeder and Tim Schroeder for often filling the other seat in the canoe and pounding in the other tent stake on many early trips into the Everglades. And thanks also to my parents Retta Farren and Bill Farren, who gave me the Everglades and Keys, and the wonders of Florida with a brave move to South Florida more than 35 years ago.
My deepest gratitude to Marge McDonald, Director of Development for Longstreet Press, and Richard Lenz and Pam Holliday of Lenz Design & Communications, who entrusted me to complete this book without overly stretching the deadlines. Thanks too for providing invaluable direction and editing support. Everything good about this book is due to Pam and Richard's skilled oversight of the project.
I am indebted to the staff of Everglades National Park for many years of always providing every assistance possible when asked. Although the names have changed from time to time, the information specialists, park rangers, and scientists have always been ready to help with any project or provide any information requested about the park's varied ecosystems and wildlife.
In particular I would like to credit Park Naturalist Stephen Robinson, who for 20 years has provided expert advice on everything from camping to the intricacies of the Everglades ecosystem with an unmatched dedication to the land. My appreciation also to Richard Dawson, a former research scientist with the park who was always willing to patiently explain complicated scientific information to a confused layman. Thanks also to Pat Toole, former head of public relations, who always had an open office door, and a quick response to any requests. I would like to thank Linda Roehrig for reviewing the sections of the book on Everglades National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park.
Jennifer Huber, Sales Manager with AmFac Parks and Resorts in Flamingo was also very helpful to this book in providing both hospitality and assistance with information regarding visitor opportunities in the Flamingo area and Florida Bay.
Appreciation also goes to the staff of the Florida Wildlife Federation and President Manley K. Fuller for information regarding Florida's wildlife, the Everglades, the Everglades Restudy, and Florida Keys environmental issues.
Thanks also to Kris W. Thoempe, Ph.D., Everglades Project Director for the National Wildlife Federation at the joint Florida and National Wildlife Federation Southeast Florida Office for his knowledge of the Western Everglades and the Everglades Restudy plan. Similar appreciation goes to the staff of the Big Cypress National Preserve for its guidance regarding visitor opportunities in the Big Cypress Swamp. Thanks to Sandy Snell-Dobert at Big Cypress for reviewing a portion of the manuscript.
The staff of the Coastal Conservation Association Florida and Executive Director Ted Forsgren have my gratitude for providing valuable assistance and information on fishing guides and marine conservation issues.
Florida Sportsman Magazine and its publisher Karl Wickstrom have also been invaluable to the writing of this book due in part to their sharp coverage of South Florida conservation issues and for assistance with charts, tide tables, and other information regarding fishing and other outdoor opportunities in the Everglades, Florida Bay, and the Florida Keys.
My appreciation also goes to the staff of John Pennekamp State Park, and to Andy Newman of Captain Slate's Atlantis Dive Center for information on Key Largo diving opportunities and the coral reef system.
And my thanks go to the Monroe County Tourist Development Council for providing invaluable assistance and guidance on visiting the Florida Keys along with essential information on the most current eco-tourism opportunities.
Thanks also go to Kenny Brown of Outdoor Resorts on Chokoloskee Island for always being ready and willing to share his special knowledge of southwest Florida's unique history as well as the best spots to catch a redfish or snook in the Everglades backcountry.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, especially Jim Bell at the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Office on Big Pine Key, and the staff of the Ten Thousand Island National Wildlife Refuge, were very helpful in providing natural history information and background on the six national wildlife refuges covered in this book.
Thanks also to Lucy Evanicki of the Seminole Tribe of Florida for information on Florida's Indian tribes, their history, and visitor opportunities on the Seminole Indian Reservation.
Sincere thanks also go to Eric Hathaway with Banana Bay Resorts on Marathon and Key West, for his hospitality and knowledge of the Florida Keys; and to Julie Perrin-Olsen and the Cheeca Lodge resort, for their hospitality and help with Islamorada fishing information.
I would like to thank Beth Preddy Public Relations, particularly Beth Preddy and Howard Goodman, for coordinating review of the Naples chapter for factual accuracy. And thanks to Pat Wells at Lignumvitae Key State Botanical Site and Michelle Sheldone, Stuart Newman Associates, Miami, for their help and input.
Last, I wish to extend special recognition to my father-in-law Dean Losey, who passed away during the writing of this book. Dean and his wife Betty Losey took the time to track down valuable information for this book concerning the Everglades Restudy, South Florida water and population issues, and the Sawgrass Recreation Area.