Clean and Pristine Okefenokee

One thing that is pleasantly noticeable in the clean and pristine wilderness of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is the absence of pollution. Very little light pollution, noise pollution and ‘people pollution’ (trash) is a welcome relief.

American White Water Lily
American White Water Lily flower blooming on Billy’s Lake in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia.  May 5, 2020 ©

Until I attempted recording bird calls, I had no realization of how much noise surrounds us in every day life. Even in my “quiet” subdivision, I had a hard time getting a clean bird recording without the noise of leaf blower, barking dog or cars off in the distance. But it isn’t that way in the Okefenokee Swamp! Except for the occasional airplane that passes far overhead, the noise of man’s ingenuity is mostly absent. A small splash echoes loudly across the still, dark waters at night.

Until I got a permit to stay overnight at Big Water shelter, I had never really seen how bright stars could shine. Without bright parking lots, shopping centers and cities shining nearby, the stars shine brighter in the Okefenokee Swamp. Those distant points of light, which are usually few and far between from an urban viewing point, were so many  – and so dazzling – that even a cellphone camera could record them.

Stars over our tent at the Big Water canoe shelter platform; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 4, 2021

And what a joy to paddle for miles and miles and never see a cigarette butt, used lottery ticket, or a plastic grocery bag. On my Saturday morning long runs through my home town, it seems the entire route is littered with trash – like a grotesque bread crumb trail leading to “civilization.” Thankfully, it isn’t that way in the pristine Okefenokee… and let’s keep it that way! Remember to pack out everything you bring in.


  1. Your observations are spot on. I live in a rural area of Pierce County and when we moved here from Jacksonville 30 years ago it was wonderfully quiet. Now, with the advent of 4-wheelers and more people the quiet is a thing of the past. And the trash! I can’t believe that some of my own neighbors must be responsible for the beer cans, plastic take-out cartons and the other items that litter the road. A visit to a wilderness area is refreshing but even urban areas could capture some of this peace if people would simply learn to respect the peace of their neighbors.

    Liked by 1 person

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