Almost two years back, Kim, Lucas and I took an airboat tour in the Florida Everglades while visiting my parents during Thanksgiving Weekend.
Kim and I enjoyed the tour but it definitely wasn’t Lucas’ favorite thing to do. I’d guess it was mainly due to the loud noise caused by the airboats.
According to Frommer’s, “airboats have been a staple of touring the Florida Everglades. New rules, though, are about the silence them once and for all“.
The article mentions that in the late 1980’s the National Parks Service acquired additional land for Everglades National Park which includes around 110,000 acres where the airboats operate.
Frommer’s notes that some accidents have taken place in the Everglades in recent months but that is not what will shut the airboats down.
According to Frommer’s, “The Everglades are getting squeezed by a polluted water table and other environmental stresses, and the National Park Service determined that the loud vehicles were terrifying wildlife and damaging the ecosystem“.
Airboat licenses are no longer being given out and those that can prove that they operated before the land purchase in 1989 can still run the airboat tours. Those licenses will also eventually not be renewed. (They expire when the current operator dies & most of them are 60 years old+ now.)
There will be four approved airboat tourism operators with a limited amount of trips allowed. Otherwise, on land not owned by the NPS, airboat rides will be allowed.
No exact date was given for when these new rules begin, but Frommer’s mentions that it will be in a few weeks.
It’s good to see that the government is doing something to protect nature. However, you have to also feel for these tour operators that might be in business for 25 years that will have to stop running airboat tours.
It also makes me wonder how pricey airboat tours will become since now there will only be four approved operators.
An alternate idea:
We did a similar swamp style tour (although not on an airboat) while visiting New Orleans 6 months after visiting the Everglades. It happened to be much better and I’d recommend trying to do that instead.
Find out more from Frommer’s here.