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Wildlife and Conservation

Southwest Florida has a unique environmental ecosystem consisting of preserves, sanctuaries, swamps, and estuaries.  Most notably, The Everglades National Park resides in Southwest Florida’s back yard.  The flora and fauna are on display daily in their natural environment located throughout all of Southwest Florida. You can also see them up-close and personal in the protected parks of this five-county region.

Amberjack Environmental Park
“Amberjack is a 225-acre park made up of unique scrub, pine flatwoods, marshes, and other beautiful areas. Amberjack is traversed by two significant wetlands which are havens for several species of wading birds including glossy ibis, roseate spoonbills, and snowy egrets. Two boardwalks lead to observational platforms on Lemon Lake where people can enjoy the amazing variety of birds that inhabit the lake and the surrounding areas”.

Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
“Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary occupies approximately 13,000 acres in the heart of the Corkscrew Watershed in Southwest Florida, which is part of the Western Everglades.  The Sanctuary is an important habitat for numerous endangered species which include: the Florida Panther, American Alligator, Gopher Tortoise, Florida Sandhill Crane, Limpkin, Roseate Spoonbill, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Big Cypress Fox Squirrel, and the Florida Black Bear – several rare plants are also found here, most notably the Ghost Orchid”.

Babcock Ranch Preserve
“The Babcock Ranch Preserve occupies 73,239 acres in southeast Charlotte County and northwest Lee County, 17.5 miles east of Punta Gorda, and 34 miles west of Lake Okeechobee.  It represents one of the single largest purchases of conservation land in the state’s history.  The Preserve protects regionally important water resources, diverse natural habitats, scenic landscapes, and historic and cultural resources in the rapidly developing southwest Florida corridor.  Public recreational opportunities include hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing, bicycling, fishing, camping, and horseback riding”.

Big Cypress National Preserve
“The freshwaters of the Big Cypress Swamp, essential to the health of the neighboring Everglades, support the rich marine estuaries along Florida’s southwest coast. Protecting over 729,000 acres of this vast swamp, Big Cypress National Preserve contains a mixture of tropical and temperate plant communities that are home to a diverse wildlife including the elusive Florida panther”.

The Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association
“The C.R.C.A. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting the Caloosahatchee River and its watershed through education and promotion of responsible use and enjoyment by all people”. Individual memberships start at $20.

Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium 
“The Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium is a private, not-for-profit, environmental education organization located in Fort Myers, Florida.  The site sits on 105-acres, has a museum, three nature trails, a Planetarium, butterfly and bird aviaries, a gift shop, and meeting and picnic areas. Strolling through the Museum, visitors can learn about Southwest Florida’s natural history”.

Conservation Charlotte
Five Preserves and six Environmental Parks including Buck Creek Preserve, Peace River Preserve, Prairie Creek Preserve, Shell Creek Preserve, and THornton Key Preserve.   Environmental parks include Amberjack Environmental Park, Ann Dever Memorial Regional Park, Cedar Point Environmental Park, Charlotte Flatwooods Environmental Park, Tippecanoe Environmental Park, and TippecanoeII Mitigation Area.

Conservancy of Southwest Florida
The Conservancy is committed to assisting government and business leaders with science-based research and encouraging them to make growth decisions that keep the health, well-being, and the sustainability of the Southwest Florida region in mind. The Conversancy is also committed to helping citizens stay informed.  Along with several other dynamic environmental organizations, The Conservancy has achieved a long list of accomplishments in this region.

Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park
Delnor Wiggins is rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the nation and is a popular destination in Southwest Florida. Activities include snorkeling, hiking, bird-watching, fishing, picnicking, and searching for seashells. There are grills, picnic tables, and benches throughout the beach.

Everglades National Park
“The Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness within the U.S. The Park is close to 1.5 million acres in size and is habitats for many species. Of these species, many of these are considered either rare or endangered, including the manatee, American crocodile, and the Florida panther”.

Lake Okeechobee and Waterway
Lake Okeechobee is the second largest freshwater lake in the U.S.with an area of almost 467,200 acres.  Lake Okeechobee has facilities for fishing, camping, dining, camping, along with fishing guides.

Lee County Conservation 20/20
“The Lee County Conservation 20/20 is a publically open collection of 44 different preserves. The preserves offer opportunities for hiking, bird watching, nature photography, nature study, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, and horseback riding”.

Matanzas Pass Preserve
“The Matanzas Pass Preserve is nearly 60 acres of unspoiled sanctuary and is located on Estero Island. The preserve has 1.25 miles of trails that go through the preserves ecosystems of mangroves and oak hammock. The preserve offers many public facilities including: boardwalks, trails, canoe/kayak landing, and a historic cottage”.

Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest
“Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest is 13,382 acres of pristine slough that is oriented north-south through the forest. The natural systems of the Fakahatchee Strand and Big Cypress Preserve are dependent on the water supplied by the Okaloacoochee Slough”. There are many activities open to the public including: hiking, hunting, fishing, and bicycling. The forest has a unique wetland ecosystem that is home to many different species.

Peace River Preserve
“The Peace River Preserve is approximately 450 acre of scrubby and mesic flatwoods, xeric and mesic hammocks, scattered depressional marshes, and mangrove swamps. Within these ecosystems there are many unique animals including Florida scrub jays, gopher tortoises, and a variety of wading birds”.

Shell Creek Preserve
“Shell Creek Preserve is a 370 acres preserve consisting of cypress lined creek banks, xeric hammocks, mesic hammocks, scrub plants, depressional marshes, and longleaf pine. Within the preserve there are several public activities including, bird/animal watching and canoeing”.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
“The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is over 3,400 acres of a wetland ecosystem and has many different animal species including: otters, alligators, turtles, and wading birds. The preserve also attracts many migrating animals including birds and butterflies. There are several public activities including, guide observation decks, 1.2 miles of elevated boardwalk, and seating to enjoy the scenery”.