Our first stop is the Green Swamp . Although it is called a swamp, this region actually features both wetlands and uplands. Wetlands and uplands have distinct and unique characteristics based on the presence and absence of water, and in turn, by the types of plants and animals specifically adapted to live in them.
The Green Swamp is an area of land covering about 870 square miles in central Florida. It stretches across parts of Pasco, Polk, Hernando and Sumter counties. The Green Swamp is very important because it has many wildlife habitats and can hold large amounts of water. The Green Swamp features sandy soils that allow rain to easily percolate down into the Floridan aquifer. In some areas of the Green Swamp the aquifer is located near the surface of the land, which means that the rain that falls in the Green Swamp has a very short distance to percolate down into the aquifer. The Green Swamp also is important because it is the beginning point, or headwaters, of four of Florida's major rivers - the Ocklawaha, Withlacoochee, Peace and Hillsborough rivers.
Each of these rivers is an important part of west-central Florida's ecosystem and water resources, so it is vital to keep these river systems clean and healthy. At first glance, it may seem like plants, trees, animals and soil have nothing to do with clean water. But remember: We all play a vital role in the ecosystem. Because each role in the ecosystem is interconnected, it is important that all parts are working properly. When one part of the ecosystem is not working properly, we all are affected. To have clean, healthy water, we must have healthy lands, trees and animals. In order to help keep the Green Swamp and its river systems healthy, the Southwest Florida Water Management District has purchased and is protecting about 125,000 acres of land in the Green Swamp.
More than 330 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals common to Florida can be found in the Green Swamp. Some of these include wood storks, snowy egrets, blue herons, alligators, snakes, turtles, river otters, bobcats, eagles and possibly Florida black bears and Florida scrub jays.
The pitcher plant is one of the many plants you'll find in the Green Swamp. It grows along wet meadows and around the edges of swamps. If you keep very still, you might catch a glimpse of this plant snacking on its favorite food - insects! Other plants and trees found in the Green Swamp include wiregrass, saw palmettos, slash pines, longleaf pines, laurel oaks, red maples and cypress trees.
Don't forget to see the virtual reality sequence (represented by the moving icon at the top of this page) before you move on to the next stop:
Southwest Florida Water Management District