In 1976, a group of Lee County students studying the role of forested wetland in Florida's ecology became alarmed at how fast these environmental treasures were disappearing to private interests. The students, known simply as "the Monday Group," envisioned a place where visitors could stroll amongst majestic cypress trees and catch the whisper of Florida's primordial past. They sought an oasis where guests could observe the vast array of plants and animals that can live in a place that is sometimes land, sometimes water, sometimes both. In such pristine surroundings they hoped that people could begin to learn how wetlands provide priceless yet often hidden benefits, such as water purification and storage, natural flood control and wildlife habitat.
Knowing that Six Mile Cypress Slough was under imminent threat from logging and the channeling away of its water, the Monday Group launched a daring campaign to save it for future generations. Lee County voters responded overwhelmingly by increasing their own taxes to purchase and convert the Slough into a preserve.
But worthy causes are not always easily won. Much effort was needed throughout the 1980s to protect the Six Mile Cypress watershed from the results of outside development (e.g. pollutants, draining off of vital water sources). The Lee County Board of Commissioners and South Florida Water Management District found themselves more than once battling to maintain the integrity of the Preserve's water source.
These efforts culminated in 1991 with Lee County Parks and Recreation opening the Preserve's boardwalk and facilities to visitors. Today, Parks and Recreation remains challenged with balancing the needs of water conservation and wildlife management with the recreational needs of the public. As part of that, a growing cadre of Volunteer Naturalists educate the Preserve's many visitors as to the interrelationships of water, wildlife, plants, and people - fanning the flames of that torch set by Lee County students some two decades earlier.
We invite you to come and experience the uniqueness that is Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve. Take a step back into the Florida that used to be and glimpse a future replete with possibilities. Compiled by Volunteer Naturalist Gayle SchmidtSix Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is over 3,500 acres of intermingled wetland and upland ecosystems. The appearance of the Slough changes with the seasons from dry (October-May) to wet (June-September). During the rainy time of year, the cypress slough catches and slowly filters rainwater on its way towards Estero Bay. Animals adapted to life in wetlands, like alligators, turtles, otters, and wading birds, live at the Slough year-round. Additionally, many types of migratory birds use the Slough as a rest st
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