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Picayune Strand State Forest

Map of Florida
Location Collier County, Florida
Nearest city Naples, Florida
Area 57,000 acres (230 km²)

Picayune Strand State Forest in Florida is primarily comprising two major tracts of land, the South Golden Gate Estates Tract and the Belle Meade Tract. The South Golden Gate Estates Tract comprises the majority of the forest. The land which is now Picayune Strand State Forest was originally logged for cypress trees in the 1940s and 1950's. In the 1960s, a developer purchased over 57,000 acres (230 km²) to create the largest subdivision in America to be called "Golden Gate Estates". A massive system of canals and roads were built and thus began one of the original "swampland in Florida" scams.

Potential buyers were flown over the area during the dry season then subjected to high pressure salesmen who were selling lots averaging 2.5 acres (10,000 m2) apiece. Most of the land south of Interstate 75 could never be developed due to the summer flooding, and the development eventually went bankrupt.

In 1985, a plan was put into place to purchase South Golden Gate Estates using Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) funds under the "Save Our Everglades" program. This was an incredibly large undertaking as it involved acquiring land from 17,000 landowners. In 1998, the federal government gave 25 million dollars in aid to the State of Florida to help with land acquisition. Land acquisition was completed in 2006 and hydrological restoration activities will now begin in earnest. This will restore the sheet flow of freshwater that is necessary for the continued existence of the ecologically sensitive Ten Thousand Islands and the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.[1]



Picayune Strand State Forest is located in southwest Florida in western Collier County, approximately 30 miles (48 km) of the city of Naples. The forest can be accessed on Everglades Boulevard from the north or Janes Scenic Drive from the east. The Florida Division of Forestry [2] Field Office is located at 2121 52nd Avenue SE, west of Everglades Boulevard S.

Natural features

Picayune Strand State Forest is in the heart of an ecosystem called the Big Cypress Basin. The majority of this hydric forest is under water during periods of considerable rainfall. The forest comprises cypress strands, wet prairie, and pine flatwoods in the lowlands and subtropical hardwood hammock in the uplands. The northern section of the Belle Meade Tract contains many second growth South Florida Slash Pine, with some remnant trees being over 100 years old.


The forest provides habitat for many species of wildlife making wildlife viewing a popular activity. The following species have been sighted on the forest: American Black Bear, White-tailed deer, Osceola Turkey, Bald Eagle, Wood Stork, Big Cypress Fox Squirrel, Swallow-tailed Kite and Florida panther. Although Florida panthers are rarely visible, they do leave tracks for the observant visitor. Female panthers have borne cubs on the state forest in recent years.


Picayune Strand State Forest offers many recreational opportunities. A 22-mile (35 km) horse trail winds across the Belle Meade Tract from Miller Boulevard to Benfield Road. All horses on the forest must have current negative Coggins Test results, proof of which is to be carried by each rider. An oak shaded primitive camping area can be found near the middle of the trail. Picayune Strand State Forest is part of the Florida Division of Forestry's Trailtrotter program.[3] Please note that off-highway vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles and swamp buggies are prohibited.


External links



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