National Wildlife Refuge
|Route 2, Box 3330
Folkston, GA 31537
Phone Number: 912-496-3331
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|Okefenokee NWR includes close to 396, 000 acres, almost 90 percent of which have increased protection as a National Wilderness Area.|
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Okefenokee NWR, located about 11 miles southwest of Folkston, was established in 1937 to preserve the 438,000 acre Okefenokee Swamp. The refuge encompasses approximately 396,000 acres with 353,000 acres designated as a National Wilderness Area.
Swamp habitats include open wet "prairies," cypress forests, scrub-shrub vegetation, upland islands, and open lakes. Wildlife species include wading birds, ducks, alligators and other reptiles, a variety of amphibians, bobcats, raptors, white-tailed deer, black bears, and songbirds.
The swamp has a rich human history including Native American occupation, early settlers, a massive drainage attempt, and intensive timber harvesting. Glimpses of the past are visible at Chesser Island Homestead, Billy's Island, Floyd's Island, and Suwannee Canal.
The prosperity and survival of the swamp, and the species dependent on it, is directly tied with maintaining the integrity of complex ecological processes, including hydrology and fire.
Getting There . . .
Okefenokee NWR has 3 primary and 2 secondary entrances. The main entrance is located 11 miles southwest of Folkston, GA off Highway 121/23, 912-496-7836. The west entrance is located 17 miles east of Fargo, GA off Highway Spur 177, 912-637-5274. The north entrance is located 8 miles south of Waycross, Ga off Highway 1, 912-283-0583. Secondary entrances are located at Kingfisher Landing, off Highway 1 north of Folkston, and the Suwannee River Sill, accessed from Highway Spur 177 east of Fargo.
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The Okefenokee Swamp is one of the world's largest intact freshwater ecosystems. It has been designated a Wetland of International Importance by the United Nations under the Ramsar Convention of 1971. The swamp is compared through research to wetlands worldwide. It is world-renowned for its amphibian populations that are bio-indicators of global health. Water from the Suwannee River Sill area is used as a standard reference by scientists throughout the world.
Refuge staff manages 33,000 acres of uplands which are being restored to once-abundant longleaf pine and wiregrass habitat. Species of concern in this community include red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, and indigo snakes.
Refuge staff and volunteers work to preserve the natural qualities of the swamp, provide habitat for a variety of wildlife, and provide recreational opportunities for visitors. They also conduct prescribed burns in upland areas; thin forests, create wildlife openings, and plant longleaf pines; and monitor, manage, and improve wildlife populations and habitat