By: Karina Balman

Karina Balman

Period 2


Gladesman and Their Fight:

“These are the people’s parks owned by the young and old…” Harry s. Truman.

This is not true especially in the Everglades. The Gladesman culture is diminishing

in the everglades because the national park service (N.P.S) is limiting traditional

use in the Everglades. I have been fighting this for 16 years.

Gladesman are people who build small homes in the everglades. The built “glade-skiffs” (airboats); small boats that could navigate through canals, and water ways

deep in the ‘glades. These people would leave month at a time, to build camps

while they hunted and fished in almost complete isolation. They developed a

relationship with the land. With this in mind, the national park service came up

with an Off-road Vehicle(ORV) plan. In that plan the NPS put primary trails in the

Big Cypress. That plan also promised secondary trails. Former Superintendent

Ramos set up a meeting with a few Gladesman by the name: Eric Kimmel, Gus

Guell, and my father Harley Balman. These Gladesman showed Ramos where they wanted the secondary trails to lead to.  It has been 9 years since that meeting and

the Gladesman still doesn’t have the secondary trails that have been promised in

the plan.

Now the Gladesman must follow rules and regulations. Some of the rules are:

individuals occupying a site may bring camping and/or hunting equipment…

one day before the opening of each of the following hunting season and must be removed… one day after each seasons end, those hunting… must wear at least

500 square inches of florescent orange, and dogs are not permitted in the back-

country areas. Bird dogs and water fowl retrievers are allowed for hunting purposes during the respective seasons. Some of the regulations are: ATC’s are limited to the numbers of riders intended by the manufacture. Safety belts are to be worn on

vehicles equipped for wheeled vehicles equipped with them, speed limites-15 miles

per hour for wheeled vehicles, 30 miles per hour for airboats, and vehicle must

meet specifications, permits requirements and be of the proper type for each unit,

and pay $100 for a ORV sticker. There are more rules and regulations found in the

ORV handbook.

The Gladesman are the users of the land. The national park service made an ORV

plan and promised secondary trails and fail to do so. The Gladesman must now

follow specific rules and regulations. “I feel like a keeper of the everglades. Its my

heart and soul… if they take this away …then nobody is going take the next

generation out to see what we see; My Everglades”-Donald E Onstead.

GLADMENES: The Last of the Sawgrass Cowboy

Click on the link to see the video


Iconic Airboats won’t be part of Everglades Culture for much longer. See the Miami Herald interviews with Keith Price, Paul Bailey, Donnie Onstad & Bob Washington

Published on Jan 10, 2014


Keith Price, an avid airboat driver and hunter, discusses his love of the Everglades and the Gladesmen culture. PETER ANDREW BOSCH/MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Published on Jan 10, 2014


Paul Bailey of the Airboat Association of Florida discusses the issues that surround being an airboat owner and the Everglades Park Service's decision to stop issuing new licenses. PETER ANDREW BOSCH/MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Published on Jan 10, 2014

Don Onstad and Bob Washington, a member of the Airboat Association of Florida, talks about how airboats are used to scatter people's ashes in the Everglades. PETER ANDREW BOSCH/MIAMI HERALD STAFF