Lake Woodruff Wilderness

Fish And Wildlife Service, Florida.


The Lake Woodruff Wilderness now contains a total of 1,066 acres and is managed by the Fish & Wildlife Service's Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. All of the Wilderness is in the state of Florida. In 1976 the Lake Woodruff Wilderness became part of the now over 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System.

The Native Americans who once lived here harvested the rich food supply and left behind mounds, middens, and artifacts dating back 10,000 years. The native population began to dwindle after the Spanish explorers arrived in the early 1500s. In 1823, Major Joseph Woodruff acquired the DeLeon Springs area (the infamous Fountain of Youth) and gave his name to the nearby lake. In 1964, the same year the Wilderness Act was passed, more than 18,500 acres were set aside as Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, a migratory bird habitat. About one-fourth of the refuge is timbered swamps.

You'll find very little evidence of human domination in this country of freshwater marshes, lakes, and streams, just plenty of wildlife. Species counted here include at least 200 birds, 42 mammals, 58 reptiles, 33 amphibians, and 68 fish. Ducks account for more than half of the migratory birds. Ospreys likewise abound, and no other refuge echoes more often with the weird cries of the limpkin. Black bears, armadillos, otters, and unusually long alligators are commonly sighted. In May and June, manatees move into the refuge and nearby Blue Springs. The bulk of visitors to the refuge come to walk along the several levees bisecting the managed wetland impoundments and view birds, alligators, otters, and other wildlife, or fish for bass, bream, and crappie. A large portion of the Refuge is accessible only by boat.

Approximately 1,000 acres of Wilderness have been established along the western refuge boundary between Honey Creek and the Saint Johns River, and the Alexander Springs Wilderness lies just across the river. With neither road nor trail, the Wilderness receives few human visitors, aside from those who boat along the borders.

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Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge's Wilderness areas are accessible only by boat, the approximately 1,000 acres of Wilderness are located along the western refuge boundary between Honey Creek and the Saint Johns River. The Alexander Springs Wilderness lies just across the river.

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