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A helicopter drops a load of water on pine trees.
Information icon West Mims Wildfire at Okefenokee NWR. Photo by Josh O’Connor, USFWS.

Okefenokee reopens main entrance

Wildfire activity reduced in the Okefenokee

Folkston, Georgia – Decreased fire activity will allow officials to partially reopen the Main Entrance to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (Suwannee Canal Recreation Area) near Folkston on Friday, June 2. While the West Mims wildfire is still an active fire with 65% containment, fire officials and refuge staff have confidence that the public can access a portion of the visitor facilities at this time. Beginning Friday, the Main Entrance will be open during normal operational hours of 30 minutes before sunrise to 7:30 p.m. Due to extremely low water levels in the swamp and firefighting equipment still in place, there will be very limited visitor opportunities at this time.

The following will be available to visitors beginning on Friday, June 2, 2017

  • Okefenokee Adventures Concession – will be offering guided canoe, kayak, and boat tours, food service, sales operation
  • Richard S. Bolt Visitor Center (Tuesday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)
  • Swamp Island Drive
  • Hiking Trails – Longleaf Pine Trail/Phernetton Trail, Upland Discovery Trail, Canal Diggers Trail, and CanePole Trail
  • Visitors will only be able to access refuge waterways via a guided boat trip (canoe, kayak, or motorboat) with Okefenokee Adventures; no personal boat launching or rental boats will be available at this time.

The Chesser Island Homestead and Chesser Island Boardwalk will remain closed due to structure protection equipment still in place.

All visitors should use extreme caution while visiting the refuge and adhere to all posted signs and information provided by refuge and concession staff as well as firefighters working in the area. Visitors should be aware that there is still an active fire in portions of the swamp and firefighters will still be working in and around the refuge entrance for the foreseeable future. A burn ban is still in effect for the entire refuge and includes charcoal grills.

To find out the most up to date information on the West Mims Fire, visit the incident webpage at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5153/ or call 904-452-4627.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit fws.gov. Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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