Babcock Ranch Preserve
Managed in cooperation with the Florida Forest Service.
The Babcock Ranch Preserve (Preserve) occupies 67,618.81 acres in southeast Charlotte County, approximately 17.5 miles east of Punta Gorda and 34 miles west of Lake Okeechobee. It represents one of the single largest purchases of conservation land in the state's history. The Preserve protects regionally important water resources, diverse natural habitats, scenic landscapes and historic and cultural resources in the rapidly developing southwest Florida corridor. Public recreational opportunities abound and include hunting, hiking, wildlife viewing, bicycling, fishing, camping and horseback riding.
Prior to its purchase by the State of Florida in 2006, the Preserve was part of the 91,361-acre working ranch known as Crescent B Ranch. Since 1914, Crescent B Ranch produced timber, cattle, row crops, and sod, and provided recreation opportunities such as hunting and ecotourism. During the sale of the property in 2006, a portion of the original Crescent B Ranch acreage was reserved for private residential development (Babcock Ranch Community); the remainder was sold to the state. The Preserve will be managed under the auspices of a unique public-private partnership which will help sustain the Preserve as a working ranch, and timbering and eco-tourism operation. Revenue from these activities and other on-site recreation will provide the resources necessary to maintain and protect the property for the citizens of Florida. Partners include the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Florida Forest Service.
Located within the Caloosahatchee River Basin, the Preserve anchors a conservation corridor of public and private land that stretches from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico. The Preserve spans a diverse mosaic of pinelands, including both wet and mesic pine flatwoods, and dry prairie ecosystems interspersed with cypress domes and cypress swamps. A dominant feature on the landscape is the north-south oriented Telegraph Swamp, a cypress strand swamp located in the eastern half of the property. The Preserve's wetlands contribute to aquifer recharge for southwest Florida and help maintain the health of the western Everglades ecosystem, particularly the Caloosahatchee River and Charlotte Harbor estuary.
Together with nearby conservation lands, including the Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area, the Bob Janes Preserve and the Caloosahatchee Regional Park, the Preserve provides habitat for wide-ranging species such as the Florida black bear and Florida panther and is home to the Osceola subspecies of native wild turkey, which is found only in peninsular Florida. In addition to abundant populations of white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and northern bobwhite, 13 wildlife species that are listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern have been documented to occur within Preserve boundaries. The list includes crested caracara, gopher tortoise, red-cockaded woodpecker, eastern indigo snake, Florida burrowing owl, Florida panther and Florida black bear.
See the Babcock Ranch Preserve Recreation page.
Add your bird observations to the Babcock Ranch eBird Hotspot.
- Footprints Hiking Trail Map
- EcoTour Hiking Trail Map
- View FWC's regulations summary brochure for Babcock Ranch Preserve Tier I Hunt Area for an area map, hunting seasons, permits, fees and area regulations.
- Visit the Babcock Ranch Ecotours web site for information on their Ecotour - A 90-minute swamp buggy tour which gives visitors a view of the freshwater wetlands of Telegraph Swamp and the operations of a traditional Florida cattle ranch.