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First store and ferry landing in Alva on the Caloosahatchee River.
Photo credit: State Archives of Florida

Just three miles outside Alva, Florida, Hickey Creek meanders through the WEA for more than a mile and discharges into thCaloosahatchee River. Although some shipping occurred on the Caloosahatchee River in the 1880s, the waterway was difficult to access until deeper channels were dredged in the 1930s and again thirty years later.

Timbering in the area peaked from 1932-1943, when a sawmill camp was built south of the creek and a logging railroad constructed. In the heyday of timbering, a commissary provided provisions for the railroad workers and timber crews, along with a few homesteaders north of the creek who made a living from citrus, farm crops and cattle.

The area now called Hickey Creek was homesteaded by Dennis O. Hickey, an Irish immigrant who fought in the third Seminole War and Civil War. Hickey ranched and timbered the land after his soldiering career and died in 1897.

Other historical uses for the land which is now Hickey Creek includes a long history of cattle grazing and other agricultural activities. An orange grove was located north of the creek.

Hickey Creek Wildlife and Environmental Area was established in 1994 as an FWC gopher tortoise mitigation park. The now-defunct Mitigation Park Program was established in 1998 as an off-site alternative to on-site protection for rare species impacted by development. When developers eliminated habitat for an endangered or threatened species, they paid fees that were used to buy and manage high quality habitat elsewhere. The WEA is managed in cooperation with Lee County Department of Parks and Recreation.