A popular day-use area in Everglades National Park that was scheduled to open this month will not due to budget shortfalls, according to park officials.
"We wish we did not have to close the Chekika Day Use Area, and we know a lot of people will be disappointed, but we had to make some difficult decisions regarding park operations," said Everglades Superintendent Dan Kimball. "The realities of the current budget situation do not allow us to operate as we have in the past. We do not have sufficient funding to operate and maintain all of our buildings, grounds, and facilities, and Chekika was selected for closure based on highest resource priorities and service to the most visitors."
Chekika is located in the northeast part of the park, off Krome Avenue at the west end of SW 168th Street in Miami. Chekika was previously only open seasonally (December 1 to April 30, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) due to a tendency to flood during the wet season. Though park facilities are closed, 237th Avenue and SW 168th Street in the park will remain open for visitor use (bird watching and wildlife viewing).
"We hope the situation changes and we will be able to return Chekika to its former operating schedule," the superintendent said. "The rest of the East Everglades section of Everglades National Park remains open for visitation. It is a wonderful area to fish, walk, bike and view wildlife. Rangers will continue to patrol the area and be available for visitor questions.”
Chekika offered a quiet day of relaxation in the Everglades, with picnicking opportunities and a short hiking trail through the hammock. It was also a good staging location for bicycle rides along the paved roads and canal banks in the East Everglades section of the park. There were no concessions, though bathrooms were available. Barbecues were provided and chickee huts were available on a first come, first served basis.
Chekika was added to Everglades National Park in 1991, as part of the Everglades Expansion Act of 1989. Prior to that, before becoming Chekika State Recreation Area in 1970, the area was a private resort called Grossman Hammock Mineral Springs, famed for a bubbling mineral spring that some believed had healing powers.