Okefenokee – For the Birds!

Juvenile White Ibis foraging in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 12, 2015. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

When the Okefenokee’s time for preservation had finally come, varying governmental departments and environmental groups had diverse visions for the swamp’s future use. Some wanted a National Park, like Yellowstone or Yosemite, to “for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” Others wanted a National Wilderness Area where “human activities are restricted to scientific study and non-mechanized recreation.” Management philosphies rocked back-and-forth between an escape for the people, and a sanctuary for the wild.

But in the end, the Okefenokee was designated “for the birds”! Executive Order 7593 signed on March 30, 1937 declared the Okefenokee a National Wildlife Refuge to be “reserved and set apart… as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.”

While there are several miles of beautiful waterways that are maintained for ecotourism, the vast majority of the 400,000+ acres is uncrossed by canoe trails, and untouched by recreation and hunting, leaving thousands upon thousands of acres solely for the birds and wildlife. Truly, the Okefenokee is for the birds!


Source: Constantino G and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. 2006. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge: Comprehensive Conservation Plan (https://ecos.fws.gov/ServCat/DownloadFile/1508)

iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/30501973

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