The Okefenokee

About The Okefenokee

Although the Okefenokee has long been referred to as a “swamp,” this simple label undercuts the exquisite beauty and diversity of the natural landscapes, the unique and complex ongoing biological processes, and the “swamp’s” almost immediate power to conjure a sense of wonder at the kaleidoscope of sights and cacophony of sounds, as thousands of species of flora and fauna intermingle in this exotic wilderness – one which has persisted intact since prehistoric times. The Okefenokee is awe-inspiring, touching multiple sensory levels. The endurance of this stunning and vast wilderness is a refreshing contradiction to what we have become accustomed to hearing with respect to humankind’s interaction with the environment.

The 438,000-acre Okefenokee Swamp, North America’s largest “blackwater” wetland and one of Georgia’s “Seven Natural Wonders,” was designated as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1937 and a National Wilderness Area in 1974. In 2022, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp proclaimed February 8th to be “Okefenokee Swamp Day” – an annual statewide celebration of the “wild heart of Georgia,” as it has come to be known. The Swamp has further been named a “Wetland of International Importance” by the Ramsar Convention and a National Natural Landmark – a designation reserved for “the best examples of biological and geological features” in the country, and Stephen C. Foster State Park, the western entrance into the Oke National Wildlife Refuge, is acknowledged as Gold-tier International Dark Sky Park by the International DarkSky Association (“IDA”) – one of fewer than 200 such sites in the world.

“This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.”

~ Evangeline, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Boston: Ticknor & Company, 1847

Top photo: Chris Funk. Bottom photo: Tom Wilson

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