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Big Cypress National Preserve

The land that makes up the Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida is an important watershed for the Everglades to the south, which require a constant supply of freshwater that only this region can offer. 1928 saw the opening of the Tamiami Trail, a road that cut directly through the Everglades and the area that is now the Preserve. Developers at the time, blinded by opportunities in harvesting lumber, oil, citrus and sugarcane, paid little attention to the delicate balance they were disrupting. Hardest hit of all were the bald cypress, which once dominated the area. A substantial portion of the cypress population, some of which were over 600 years old, were logged and water levels were drained to dangerously low levels. In 1974 congress set aside approximately 580,000 acres as the nations first National Preserve. An additional 147,000 acres were acquired in 1988, expanding the Preserve to the current size of 729,000 acres.

Roberts Lakes Strand

Winter is the ideal season for visiting the Big Cypress NP. The weather is relatively mild during the winter months, and it is also the dry season. Dry is a relative term in the cypress strands, however; be prepared to wade through some shallow water on the trails. The Oasis Visitors Center, open daily from 8:30 to 4:30, is located in the heart of the Preserve, off the Tamiami Trail, US highway 41. Take in the short film on the region and ask about the various ranger-led activities. During the winter months, ranger lead walks through featured trails and offer campfire programs and canoe trips down the Turner River to Chokoloskee Bay, where you'll share the water with alligators, egrets and ibis. If you're lucky, you might catch sight of a purple gallinule, ostentatiously dressed in teal feathers and crowned in bright blue. Canoeists may also make the four-hour trip themselves

The U-shaped route formed by Turner River Road and Birdon Road just off the Trail near Preserve Headquarters, provides an excellent introduction to the area. Enjoy birding and wildflower viewing through cypress, prairie and pine. Among the species you may spy are red-cockaded woodpecker, snail kite, bald eagle, and wood stork, all threatened or endangered and dependent on Preserves such as Big Cypress to insure their survival. East of the visitor center, directly off the Trail lays a 26-mile loop road. Drive through and make a stop at the Tree Snail Hammock Trail, a short interpretive walk nearby that emphasizes the diverse animal population.

Contact Information:
Big Cypress National Preserve
H.C.R. 61, Box 110
Ochopee, FL 34141

Information provided by National Park Service




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