Posts Tagged ‘okefenokee wild fires’

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.