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Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is a protected pond cypress and mixed hardwood strand southwest of Ft. Myers in rapidly developing Lee County. Permanent protection of the slough began in 1976 when a group of Lee County students studying the role of forested wetlands became alarmed at how fast these ecological treasures were being destroyed by development. Known as the Monday Group, these students launched a campaign to save the slough from logging and water diversion. Lee County voters responded by increasing their own taxes to purchase and convert the slough into a preserve. In 1991, Lee County Parks and Recreation opened the Preserve to visitors. The slough has a fully accessible 1.2 mile elevated boardwalk trail, observation decks for wildlife viewing, seating enclaves, and picnic areas and restroom facilities.

Sloughs are linear wetlands and are natural drainage-ways and corridors for migrating or wide-ranging wildlife. Six Mile Slough encompasses 2,200 acres, is about 9 miles in length, and averages 1/3 mile in width. The slough collects runoff from a 57-square-mile watershed. During the wet season (June through October), 2 to 3 feet of water flows slowly through the slough allowing sediments to settle and pollutants to be absorbed by plants. This cleans the water as it flows southwest to the Estero Bay Preserve. The slough also deters flooding by slowing down runoff, some of which is absorbed by plants and some of which filters into the ground to replenish groundwater and to recharge shallow wells.

The preserve is home to at least ten species of endangered plants and animals as well as numerous more common plants and animals. The slough is popular with birders since many species of songbirds, wading birds, and raptors are permanent residents, and birds migrating across the Gulf of Mexico stop in the slough to rest and "refuel."

Copyright © 2010 The Florida Geographic Alliance