Parks are now
toll free, at
STRAND STATE PRESERVE
The Big Cypress
Swamp of southwest Florida is basically a flat, gently sloping limestone
plain. During the rainy season (June through September), water flows slowly
southward over this plain into the mangrove swamps bordering the Gulf of
Mexico. Water also flows below ground through the porous underlying limestone.
In places, limestone has dissolved, forming elongated sloughs or channels
which have accumulated deep organic soils. These channels or sloughs have
been colonized by cypress and other trees, creating swamp forests that stand
out on the horizon in contrast to the open prairies and pinelands that occupy
the sterile veneer of marl soil which is on top of the remaining limestone.
The local term for these linear swamps is "strand."
The Fakahatchee Strand is the major drainage slough of southwestern Big
Cypress Swamp and the largest and most unusual of the strands. Although
logging, drainage and other human actions have had a serious impact on the
swamp, it is still one of the state's most unusual natural features.
PLANT & ANIMAL LIFE
Its forest of mixed bald-cypresses, royal palms and abundant epiphytic plants
is unique. The Fakahatchee Strand is approximately 20 miles long and three
to five miles wide. The flow of water through the Fakahatchee Strand is
essential to its continued health and that of the estuaries to the south
The natural values of the Fakahatchee
Strand may be greater than those of any area of comparable size in the state
of Florida. It contains the largest stand of native royal palms and largest
concentration and variety of orchids in North America, as well as other
species of plants that are extremely rare. The unusual
wildlife of the Fakahatchee Strand includes some threatened or endangered
species. The Florida panther, wood stork, Florida black bear, mangrove fox
squirrel and the Everglades mink have all been documented within the preserve
Facilities and activities are limited at the present time. A 2,000-foot
long boardwalk at Big Cypress Bend, meandering through the old growth cypress,
enables the visitor to experience the beauty of this unusual swamp. From
November through February rangers lead a "swamp walk" the third
Saturday of the month (weather permitting) beginning at 10 a.m. The swamp
walks are limited to 15 people and reservations are required.
Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve is located on Janes Memorial Scenic Drive, just west of Copeland on S.R. 29.
For more information on the preserve, write:
Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve
P.O. Box 548
Copeland, FL 33926
or call (941) 695-4593.
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