Gator Lake – Six Mile Cypress Slough

Gator Lake at the Six Mile Cypress Slough in Ft. Myers is a man made lake that was excavated and made into a large lake back in the 1970’s.  The slough pronounced “slew” was re-established and made into a wetland again so that rainwater and storm water could follow its’ natural course southwards towards the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve. The lake is several hundred yards long and wide and several feet deep. It is the centerpiece of the wetland park owned and operated by Lee County Parks and Recreation. A boardwalk  runs 1.5 miles throughout the preserve and winds itself around the lake and other small ponds where you can observe the native beauty of native birds, trees, plants and other wildlife. There is a team of interpretive naturalists who can take you on guided tours of the park and explain the history of the park, and point out the native trees, plants and wildlife.

Large amounts of soil and landfill had to be removed from the lake bed when it was excavated and created back in the 1970’s. Some of the landfill was used to help build the nearby Six Mile Cypress Pkwy and Page Field Airport.  It took a lot of engineering and landscape work to get the slough back in working condition and the work is continuing. Native trees like the Bald Cypress, Pond Cypress, Oak, Red Maple and Tupelo are located near the lake and in the slough. The lake acts as a wildlife habitat where hundreds of birds use the trees for nesting and migration. Turtles, birds and alligators are often seen sunning themselves on the wooden raft in the middle of the lake. The slough is 11 miles long and 1/3 mile wide. The headwaters of the slough is currently under development and will be added to the preserve when it is finished. Visit the website of the preserve at Lee County’s Parks and Recreation.  There is also an indoor  interpretive visitor center at the park with a beautiful raised wooden porch in the back of the nature center. Parking is $1 per hour.  Click on any picture to enlarge images.

 

 

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