Big Mound City
Big Mound City Earthworks

For thousands of years before Europeans arrived, native people reshaped the local environment by hunting and fishing, building mounds, and digging canals to ease travel through the sawgrass marsh between villages and rivers. On Corbett two significant archeological sites are known: Big Mound City and Big Gopher. Big Mound City covers 143 acres and consists of at least 23 mounds, some with radiating causeways and crescent-shaped man-made ponds. At least two of the 23 mounds are burial mounds. Big Gopher is one of the best-preserved earthwork sites in the Lake Okeechobee basin and consists of linear ridges, crescents, mounds, and middens.

Seminole Indian village
Seminole Indian Village

Hundreds of years after the original native cultures were gone, mostly dead from European diseases to which they had no resistance, the Seminole Indians, newcomers to Florida from Georgia and Alabama, sought refuge from the U.S. Army in Hungryland Slough until starvation forced them to surrender. The land became known to the local ranchers as the Hungryland.

In 1947, the Game and Fish Commission, the predecessor of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, purchased approximately 52,000 acres from the Southern States Land and Timber Company and named it J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area after James Wiley Corbett, a former commissioner. Prior to GFC purchase, the landowner harvested timber and grazed cattle on native range. In the 1960s, 23 miles of canals were dug, surrounding Corbett and changing the flow of water. Water once flowed west into the Everglades and east to Loxahatchee Slough. Today the canals prevent water from flowing into the Everglades. The hydroperiod (the amount of time water is on the land) is now longer and the water deeper, changing the composition of the natural communities.

In the early 1990s, a marsh restoration project was completed that slowed drainage along the western portion of the property. Other work began in the late 1990s to address frequent flooding on Corbett. Culverts were placed in levees, the main canal was cleared of vegetation, and Corbett's discharge permit from the South Florida Water Management District was modified to allow discharge of excess water. The FWC is working with other agencies to develop a plan to better manage water resources on a regional basis from Lake Worth Inlet north to the Loxahatchee River and west to the Dupuis Wildlife and Environmental Area.

In 1993, 2,331 acres adjacent to the southern boundary was purchased with funds from the Conservation and Recreational Lands program and leased to the then-GFC.

FWC Facts:
Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards.

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