One of the largest wetlands in the world, this iconic "River of Grass" protects million acres of subtropical wilderness in South Florida. Its rare mix of salt and fresh water provides critical habitat for a variety endangered plants and animals, it serves as one of the most significant corridors for migrating species, and it is home to the largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western hemisphere. Visitors can access this marshy wilderness in short hikes off of the main park road or explore the western coast of the park by paddling along the stunning 99-mile Wilderness Waterway Trail. Though they may feel like a world away, these million acres are an easy drive from Miami.
Water quality in the lake has degraded over time due to high phosphorus loadings resulting from man-induced hydrologic and land use modifications over the past 60 years. The total phosphorus concentrations that currently exist in the lake are in excess of the amount needed for a healthy ecosystem. The in-lake total phosphorus concentrations have doubled over the last 50 years as a result of increased inputs from the watershed. The construction of canals and structures, as part of the C&SF Project, facilitated the delivery of stormwater runoff from intensive land uses that have developed in the surrounding watershed. During the last five years, the average concentration of total phosphorus in the pelagic region of Lake Okeechobee was approximately 100 ppb.