Everglades Exploration Network

Hi everyone. I’ve been visiting your site for several months and wish to thank you for providing some great information and entertainment.

I wanted your thoughts and experiences with chicken etiquette.

How do you handle people at your campsite after you have just paddled 10-15 miles and they have their boats tied up to the chicken and gear spread out? Or, how about the fishing guide who drops a client off to use the head at break of dawn and then proceeds to net cast for bait? Once I had a camp set up on Picnic Key, starting my dinner and enjoying the sunset only to have a boat pull up and start to take on firewood, using a chainsaw!

I would bet there are more scenarios that I haven’t even thought of yet.

It’s not always like that but often enough to make me want to learn how best to deal with it. It can sure blow an otherwise great trip or at least a great day.

I am in the process of planning and setting up a 5 night trip for a January/February time frame. Looking at a loop trip out of Flamingo depending on what the weather is doing. The last two years I spent my ENP vacation planted in the Flamingo campground due to weather issues. I hope to tap into you folks for some advice and questions. The Chickee and ground camp issues have always bugged me and thought you folks could throw some advice my way.



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Rob, I hear you.

In no way would I let anyone spoil my experiences in the magical Everglades. The fact is, we have a very limited amount of land sites to camp on so we must share. Tolerance and social etiquette is required unless you plan on sleeping in your boat. For the most part in my many years of traveling these waters, people have been more than gracious and accomodating to me. Since starting my trips from a powerboat in the early 80's and then graduating to kayak and now canoes I can understand the different perspectives of those that want to explore the backcountry. I guess that is why I am more tolerant than most?

No one will ruin this for me...

A little bit off-topic but now that we are talking about ethics in the Everglades; I've got this from a blog I found doing a search in Google. (it is NOT from anyone here).

quote from the blog:
"We had brought so much food that we hardly touched the shark. It was sad to see so much meet go to waste. Which by the way, it was surprisingly good. It tasted nothing like fish. It was more of a pork taste. The best part was bringing that shark in. The funnest catch I've ever had was that shark."

It sounds very wrong to me.
In response to Robert's post: Perhaps like the Key's reefs the glades are too popular for their own good. As primarily a powerboater in the park I understand the frustration of non motorized users who are seeking a wilderness experience. My best guess is that for true solitude a paddler may do best to consider loops that allow them to penetrate deep into the backcountry rather than pursue the entire WW route which necessarily puts them in the path of powerboaters.

When I visit the park I'm almost always the guest of a good friend who simply doesn't paddle. We go very deep and rarely see other boats of any style once we get to our general area. Once we're where we want to be we do a lot of time drifting, poling, fishing, talking and just enjoying the amazing area. We camp on the boat a lot. I believe the Outward Bound folks have a platform that straddles two canoes, that looks like a cool way to avoid the chickees and crowds.

For me, it's hard to let go of things I find frustrating but as I get older I realize that letting go of the things I can't change is one of the most important lessons in life. That's not to say a person shouldn't report unacceptable or illegal behavior or try to change the things they can.

Hope you have a great trip in January Robert.

"quote from the blog:
"We had brought so much food that we hardly touched the shark. It was sad to see so much meet go to waste. Which by the way, it was surprisingly good. It tasted nothing like fish. It was more of a pork taste. The best part was bringing that shark in. The funnest catch I've ever had was that shark."

It sounds very wrong to me.

that blog was very entertaining! "We had scrambled eggs with bacon. And they would have been perfect had it not been for the sand I accidentally kicked into the eggs. By the time we were done with the trip we were so used to eating sand with every meal that we were missing it when we got back to civilization." LOL! Haven't we all been there? At least he felt bad about not eating all the shark "meet". If you've ever cooked shark yourself you know how hard it can be to get others to try it. Looks like they had great weather, helped out some other paddlers and had a great time. I say Cheers!
That blog was a perfect example of what NOT TO DO, and was very entertaining! But I too have learned plenty from my first camping experiences and it seems that these guys did to. They wrote they were regretful for wasting the shark instead of releasing it. This made me feel better about it. Personally I release sharks and do not keep them for food. They are under plenty of stress from overfishing and we need these predators in the food chain.

What really irritated me is something that just about every newbie tends to do. It is to build a fire above the tide line. These fires leave a nasty scar and the beautiful white sand beach is not so pretty anymore. I've discussed this with the rangers. One thought is for them to have a picture of a fire above the beach and one at tide line to explain to campers just what they mean by "fires below the tide line" when you register for a permit. Here is what a fire above the tide line:

I think I should be more specific, my point is exactly the "waste" of the shark. I do fish myself, but why keep all that fish if you know you are not going to eat it? Just like hunting, if you kill it, you eat it. What happened to catch and release? If the fish is not going be eaten at least leave it for some of us that would like to catch it and not waste it.
Juan, I feel the same as you I do not keep anything I will not eat. Sharks especially are under plenty of pressure and they IMHO should not be kept even if you intend to eat them.
Juan, I agree. It's a waste and you would think that they would know better but I guess not because there they are, recounting the story for everyone to read. It still does not make it acceptable.

There are exceptions depending on circumstances.

Hopefully they are just ignorant and will learn from the experience. If they are just plain stupid, there is little hope they will ever change their ways. If people can't be responsible stewards of our natural resources then maybe they should just stay home.

Vivian, I like the idea of the pictures. Some people just don't know.

I recall growing up down here as a kid. My grandfather owned a boat and introduced me to fishing. My grandparents were products of the "Great Depression", and they never wasted anything. I recall as a kid catching a large Jack, and I was quite proud of it, and wanted to keep it. My grandmother fixed it for dinner that night(yucko!) On other ocassions I was served "Sailcat" (actually not that bad) Anyways, I came up with the concept of "catch & release" all on my own. I would quickly release a (substandard) fish before my grandfather could get it in the cooler. This was back in the day, before there were size and # limits (we ate alot of fish).

I've yet to camp on a chickee. One time while back in the park, I pulled my boat up to one to check it out. One of the platforms looked like a sacrificial ceremony had taken place. There was blood all over it. I really thought that was as about as rude as you could get. Seriously! Who do they think is going to clean that up?
I have a problem with the fires below the high tide mark. Some rules are made for people that simply do not give 3 hoots. Responsible campers leave no trace of their use on a beach site.  When beach camping I have always made a fire albeit a small one ABOVE the hide tide mark. I scout the area and ensure that there is no danger of fire spreading or damage to vegetation or roots. I only use drift wood and try to pick the man made pieces at that( 2"x4", broken lobster traps, pallets, etc.)  In other words stuff that shouldn't be on the beach to begin with. I also make fires on top of places where scars of previous fires exist. When taking down camp I douse the embers with plenty of water to ensure that it is out. I then pull out my 8' x8' tarp that has a million uses and I shovel all traces of the fire onto the tarp. a quick drag into the water completely disappears all traces of a fire having existed in the first place. I back fill the fire pit using sand from below the hide tide mark. I believe that the only damaged this may cause is sterilization of the soil by the heat, but microbes populate fairly quickly anyway. It only takes a few minutes for proper cleanup and i would challenge anyone to point out one of the places i have made a fire.
.. and here i was convinced that NPS built the Umbrella & Johnson platforms just so that power boaters have a place to go for #2 in the 'Bay!

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