Ten Thousand Islands
National Wildlife Refuge
|12085 State Road 29 South
Immokalee, FL 34142
Phone Number: 239-657-8001
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|As part of the nation's largest archipelago, Ten Thousand Islands NWR is home to sea turtles and manatees in its surrounding waters and a myriad of animals.|
Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge
Ten Thousand Islands NWR is located in Collier County on the southwest coast of Florida. Established in 1996, this 35,000 acres refuge protects important mangrove habitats and a rich diversity of native wildlife, including several endangered species.
The refuge is part of the largest expanses of mangrove forest in North America. Approximately two thirds of the refuge is mangrove forest, which dominates most tidal fringes and the numerous islands (or keys). The northern third of the refuge consists of brackish marsh and interspersed ponds, and small coastal hammocks of oak, cabbage palms, and tropical hardwoods such as gumbo limbo.
Roughly 200 species of fish have been documented in the area and much of the sea grass beds and mangrove bottoms serve as vital nursery areas for marine fish. Over 189 species of birds use the refuge at some time during the year. Prominent bird groups include wading birds, shorebirds, diving water birds, and raptors. Common mammals found in the area include raccoon, river otter, and bottle-nosed dolphins.
Notable threatened and endangered species include West Indian manatee, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, wood stork, and the Atlantic loggerhead, green, and Kemp's Ridley sea turles.
Getting There . . .
Ten Thousand Islands NWR is located between Marco Island and Everglades City, Florida. The refuge is best accessed by boat. The two prominent boating access points are found in Goodland and Port-of-the-Islands. Take U.S. 41 south out of Naples and drive 12 miles to Hwy 92, turn right and drive 5 miles to Goodland, or continue on U.S. 41 for 5 miles to Port-of-the-Islands. The headquarters for the refuge is located at 3860 Tollgate Blvd,. Naples, FL, within the Comfort Inn at exit 101 on I-75.
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Invasive non-native plants such as Brazilian pepper, melaleuca, Australian pine, old world climbing fern, and latherleaf have degraded portions of the refuge. Mechanical and chemical methods are utilized to control these nuisance species.
A large number of research projects are conducted on the Ten Thousand Islands NWR by a variety of agencies and organizations. Most of the work being done on the refuge is part of larger projects dealing with mangrove and esturary stystems and functions, especially as it relates to restoration activities planned for lands located in the watershed north of the refuge. Reserach and investigations on the refuge are enhanced by the presence of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve which encourages and facilitates research within the state aquatic preserves which overlay the refuge. Refuge staff and volunteers participate in research and monitoring activities involving endangered sea turtles, migratory birds, and endangered manatees.
Law enforcement patrols by refuge staff provide protection for migratory birds and endangered species and educate, monitor, and inform the public about interim uses and refuge resources. A cooperative management agreement with the State of Florida addresses management activities and law enforcement issues.