Posts Tagged ‘Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge’

Find Your Park

January 27th, 2016 by Mary




2016 marks the National Park Service’s Centennial, and to commemorate the occasion, the NPS has launched a new campaign called “Find Your Park.” The purpose of the campaign is to encourage people to personally connect with national parks, wildlife refuges, public land areas, and even National Park Service programs. To get started, potential park visitors can visit the Find Your Park website; they can search for a park based on the experience they would like to have, by location, or through others’ experiences, conveyed through videos from people who are a major part of this initiative, such as Bill Nye, former First Lady Laura Bush, and current First Lady Michelle Obama.

Once people have found “their” park, they are encouraged to share their story. They can upload a photo, video, artwork, or whatever they feel best reflects their experience to the Find Your Park website under “Share Your Park”. For those active on social media, they can share posts on Twitter or Instagram and use #findyourpark to tag their posts.  Users even have the chance to win some amazing prizes – currently there is a video contest running in conjunction with and Playlist Live Orlando, with more contests to come.

The last step is for people to get involved with their chosen park, and the “Support Your Park” section has numerous suggestions – one can join the National Park Foundation or a local Friends Group, make a monetary contribution, or search for a volunteer opportunity.  There are over 400 national parks alone in the United States, so there is no shortage of possibilities.

Want to take part in this campaign? There are two nationally-managed areas right in our backyard for you to discover – first, Cumberland Island National Seashore is a 45-minute ferry ride away from downtown St. Marys. An unspoiled piece of wilderness, Cumberland Island has been preserved and maintained by the National Park Service since the 1970s. The island is rich in beauty as well as history. Visitors can walk on the beach, observe wild horses, explore the ruins of Dungeness Mansion, or take the Lands and Legacies van tour to the north end of the island. The Cumberland Island Visitor Center as well as the Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum are in downtown St. Marys and are great places to visit to further enhance your experience. Wild Cumberland and the Georgia Conservancy are two nonprofit groups heavily involved in the continued preservation of the island, if you are looking to volunteer.

The second nearby area is the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, with the Main Entrance located an hour to the west of us in Folkston, GA. Experience the “Land of the Trembling Earth” by hiking the numerous trails, climbing up the observation tower at the end of the Chesser Island Boardwalk, or taking a guided boat ride through the swamp. The Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center is a terrific source of information and education, and for any volunteer opportunities, you can contact the Okefenokee Wildlife League, the official Friends Group for the Refuge.

What are you waiting for? Get out there and find a park near you!


Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Is On The Rise

August 12th, 2012 by Mary

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937, not only to preserve and protect the wildlife, but also for people to explore and enjoy the nearly 402,000 acres(roughly 300,000 football fields in size) of marsh lands, cypress forests, and lakes. These beautiful wetlands are thriving with wildlife that roam free in their natural habitat – ranging from alligators to tortoises and woodpeckers to white-tailed deer. With it’s rich history,  immense wetlands and  wildlife galore, there is no surprise as to why the Okefenokee Swamp is a must see when visiting Southern Georgia or Northern Florida.

The Okefenokee Swamp is one of the world’s most well preserved freshwater ecosystems and is a system dependent upon rainfall, making it easily susceptible to drought and wildfire – for this reason these vast swamplands have been in a drought for over two years now. The drought has left many of the trails along the 120 mile system of trails inaccessible by maintenance crews, causing an abundance of plant overgrowth. Many of these trails are still blocked by downed trees from the Honey Prairie Fire in April 2011. Fortunately for the swamp, it’s water levels were recently replenished by the upper edge of Tropical Storm Debbie. This storm was moving at a not-so alarming rate of 3-5 mph and brought very heavy rainfall. The Okefenokee Swamp saw anywhere from 3.2 inches of rainfall all the way up to 20.6 inches near it’s southern edge in Florida. Water levels have not been up this high since February of 2010 and its causing for more and more trails to open back up.

Now is the perfect time to head over to the swamp and take advantage of one (or more) of their guided tours. With a plethora of knowledge and experience, each guide brings a different perspective to your tour. Whether you take a 90 minute boat ride along the historic Suwanee Canal or a sunset kayak tour to witness the swamps magical golden sunset, you are sure to have an unforgettable experience. 

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Okefenokee Re-opens After Fires

July 28th, 2011 by Mckenzie

American Alligator In The Okefenokee Swamp

Due to the spread of wild fires, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge had been shut down for over a month. Well, lucky for us, we can now officially say they are back in business. Although the fires caused extensive damage in the swamp, they also added more unique characteristics to the land & wilderness area. The smoke affected many surrounding towns including our own St. Marys. Many firefighters went to work on the fires, battling night and day to try to contain them. We had a few good rains that also helped to put the fires out. With the re-opening of Okefenokee NWR, not everything is available yet but there are many things to do from guided boat/kayak/canoe tours to driving/walking trails. Reservations are required for the guided kayak or canoe tours,  please call at least 24 hours in advance. The park opens a half hour before sunrise and the first guided boat tour will depart around 9am; the last boat leaves around 5pm and the swamp closes at 7:30pm. Tours last about an hour and generally there is one every hour. If you are interested in canoeing or kayaking on your own, Okefenokee Adventures has resumed rentals. Private canoes and kayaks may be launched but, at this time, the refuge rangers do not recommend the use of  private motorized boats because of the low water levels.  The Okefenokee and its prairie is a great authentic swamp homestead. While visiting the swamp you could run across many kinds of critters from American alligators to great blue herons to cute and playful otters. It really is a different and special experience now because of  the fires. You can see first hand how the fires altered the swamp and how fast it is recovering – there is even some green growth showing through the burn. If you decide to stop and have some lunch, there is the Camp Cornelia Café. They serve sandwiches, salads and vegetarian fare and they can also prepare group meals, as well as cookouts and shrimp boils. It takes about 45 minutes to get to Okefenokee from St. Marys. For more information and prices on all these activities go to The visitors center, where the films and exhibits are, is open daily from 9am to 5pm. If you have any questions, please call the visitors center at 912-496-7156.

P.S. Do not forget your cameras as you never know what you might see.

Bicycle Ride Across Georgia

February 28th, 2011 by Seth


The Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, or BRAG, just finished their Winter Ride, and the group made a stop in St. Marys for a few nights. They chose St. Marys because of its central location to several of the places that they wanted to visit. Such as

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Sandhill Cranes Arriving at the Okefenokee Swamp

November 16th, 2010 by Seth

Sandhill Crane

The month of November brings a special visitor to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. That visitor is the Sandhill Crane. Sandhill Cranes escape the frigid winters of the Northern US & Canada for the mild winters at Okefenokee Swamp.

The Okefenokee Swamp covers 438,000 acres, and gives visitors many oppurtunities to explore its beauty. A winding boardwalk trail leads to an observation tower that allows visitors to

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