Here at American Forests we love to celebrate birthdays, whether it’s celebrating a staff member with a generous helping of birthday cake or celebrating the “birth” of some of our nation’s most remarkable public lands. Today, another gorgeous national park celebrates its anniversary: Everglades National Park in Florida was signed into existence 66 years ago today.

Bob Showler with the national co-champion inkwood in Everglades National Park.
Bob Showler with the national co-champion inkwood in Everglades National Park.

It’s a park whose name pops up a lot around here, including in connection with our National Big Tree Program. Everglades is one two national parks in Florida to boast a national champion tree — not surprising given that Florida holds the record for the greatest number of national champs of any state.

The national co-champion inkwood in Everglades is 47 feet tall with a crown spread of 27 feet. Considering that a typical inkwood is around 30 feet tall, that’s quite a height! The tree was nominated in 2007 by naturalist Bob Showler, who has six other nominations listed in the National Register of Big Trees. Although the inkwood is this big-tree hunter’s only current Everglades champ, other projects have blossomed from his time spent hunting for such goliaths in the park.

While searching for champs, Showler began to notice the bark of different trees, and they captured his imagination. Teaming up with friend and photographer Tim Taylor, they created the exhibit “Barking up a Tree” to showcase the beauty of Florida’s native trees through close-ups. The photographs were exhibited at visitor centers in Everglades National Park and later at Florida’s Biscayne National Park, but can still be seen in the digital exhibit on the website of Everglades National Park.

So, in honor of Everglades NP, grab yourself a slice of birthday cake and curl up with a good online photography exhibit.