Okefenokee Swamp attracts you in with its peaceable and haunting magnificence

Some of the extraordinary features of Okefenokee Swamp is its absolute tranquility, or so that you may suppose. Then little by little, sound after sound, you understand it is not silent in any respect. Stand nonetheless and in just a few moments the birds sing and trill, the squirrels scream and cackle, the crickets chirp, the bullfrogs caw and the alligators scream and dive right into a pure orchestra performed by Mom Nature.

The swamp extends over 700 sq. miles, chopping by way of a large swath of wetlands, plateaus, islands, and pine forests. Right here, we’re coping with creatures that dwell free of their pure surroundings.

The east entrance, close to Folkston, Georgia, is a part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and incorporates a library, reveals, and concessions. The west entrance is positioned at Stephen C. Foster State Park, a state park in Georgia close to Fargo and affords cottages for hire. The north entrance is positioned at Okefenokee Swamp Park close to Waycross and is privately owned, and two extra secondary entrances, primarily for boaters, are positioned at Kingfisher Touchdown close to Folkston and Suwannee River Sill, additionally close to Fargo. Common admission and entry charges are required in any respect entrances.

Okefenokee Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, the most important Nationwide Wildlife Refuge within the jap United States, is run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. For extra particulars, go to www.fws.gov/okefenokee or name (912) 496-7836. Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross is privately owned however has entry to the Nationwide Wildlife Refuge. Go to www.OkeSwamp.com or name (912) 283-0583. Info on guided excursions with Okefenokee Adventures may also be discovered at www.OkeSwamp.com. Contact Stephen C. Foster State Park at www.GaStateParks.org or by calling (912) 637-5274.

There’s a good rationalization for why Okefenokee is known as the “land of the shaking earth”. The bottom, largely a lavatory with some deposits as much as about 15 toes thick, is gentle and unstable and actually shakes. At certainly one of our boat stops on a prairie full of waterfowl, our information asks me to get off the boat and enter the swamp, with out sneakers. The day was chilly and windy, and I wasn’t thrilled on the prospect of chilly, moist toes, however I obeyed anyway. When she humorously tells me to “bounce up and down”, I did as I used to be informed, since you simply do not say no to a woodland swamp. The bottom vibrated underneath my naked toes, virtually shaking, like a large bowl of jelly, however I rapidly bounced off the boat in case an alligator had been maintaining a tally of me for an appetizer.

Consider the huge lavatory as an enormous saucer-shaped melancholy, only a 700-square-mile bowl full of birds, mammals, amphibians, fish, flowering and non-flowering vegetation and bushes, and almost three dozen kinds of snakes, together with six toxic. Eight-foot-long diamondback rattlesnakes have been discovered within the swamp. The swamp water, black as a forged iron kettle from the tannic acid launched by decaying vegetation, is pristine and pure and glistens like quicksilver on a cloudless day.

The Okefenokee has confronted some severe challenges from Mom Nature over the previous 20 years, together with a dry, years-long drought adopted by two devastating fires that burned some 800,000 acres. Now all is properly, the swamp inexperienced and verdant, however typically you see the blackened bones of the bushes the place the canopied forests as soon as stood. Whereas swamps want occasional fires to maintain vegetation low, in any other case they might convert to highlands, the mix of drought and fireplace has disrupted the ecosystem for some time, chasing away birds and wildlife. Through the years, they’ve ultimately come crawling, crawling, hopping, hopping, flying, awkwardly, and leaping again, particularly when the brand new development has returned.

The swamp is residence to quite a few endangered and threatened species, together with the red-cocked woodpecker, indigo snake, and wooden stork. At one time, the American alligator, of which the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates round 15,000 dwell in Okefenokee, was listed as endangered, however is now prolific within the southern half of the US and, because of the their quantity now excessive, is commonly thought-about a nuisance.

To discoverPlan Your Journey: A Information to Okefenokee Swamp

One of many largest alligators right here was the 14-foot-long Oscar, whose bones relaxation within the Okefenokee Swamp Park customer heart close to Waycross. It’s estimated that he was a few hundred years outdated when he died. Not removed from the creek, Scott confirmed us a number of alligator nests, ensuring that the good outdated Mama Gator or an offspring of Oscar wouldn’t come out as a result of the morning was so chilly.

Okefenokee Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, which borders Okefenokee Swamp Park, was established in 1936 to safeguard the swamp, one of many oldest and best-preserved freshwater areas in the US. Since then, nobody has lived inside its borders. Logging was banned right here in 1934, the seize of animals in 1936 and “turpentine”, the gathering of sap or resin from the pines, was stopped in 1939.

Visiting the wild and romantic Okefenokee, even after the hearth and drought, is an unforgettable expertise that’s tantamount to returning to the times of the dinosaurs. No different place comes shut for its close to silence, its wild nature, its haunting magnificence. It’s nature by way of nature the place wildlife comes first.

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