Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Okenefenokee "The Land of Trembling Earth"

Chesser Homestead. The family lived in the swamp for 3 generations, surviving on what they could trap and grow and harvest for money (turpentine, honey, skins). Some family members are still employed by the park department.

Even on a somewhat cool day, we had enough sunshine to entice some alligators to come out to sun themselves.

Cypress one knows what their function is. They never grow into Cypress trees, and it doesn't hurt the tree if they are cut off.

The observation tower at the end of the boardwalk on Chesser Island.

The southeast side of the Okefenokee is partly prairie with large lakes in the middle. The prairie is the result of a forest fire burning the forests of the swamp in the 1950's.

Miles of boardwalks allow visitors to see the amazing biodiversity of the swamp.

The 350,000 acre National Wildlife Refuge that is the Okefenokee is mostly protected from any intervention by man. Even forest fires, which are part of the natural evolution of the park, are allowed to burn. In 2007, only the buildings in the Stephen Foster State Park were protected from the fire.

A forest fire in April-May of 2007 burned nearly 90% of the swamp. The trees grow on up to 15 feet of peat moss. When the peat starts burning it undermines the trees, and the trees that aren't burnt often fall. It looked like a tornado had been through this part of the swamp.