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Salt Lake - History

scrub habitat

Uncommon in Florida lakes, the level of salinity in Salt Lake is about one-third of the water in the Atlantic Ocean. Native people lived around Salt Lake for thousands of years and hunted, fished and foraged in marshes, swamps and nearby coastal lagoons. The area was probably occupied by the Ais people, according to Florida historians, who noted that the Ais salvaged from shipwrecks, but were not known to harm passengers. After these native people had been wiped out, pioneers of European ancestry explored and settled the area. They logged out most of the large pines in the area, although some of the remaining trees bear the telltale cat-faced scars made from collecting resin. In more recent decades, the area was part of a cattle operation. Another industry prior to state ownership involved removing cabbage palms and selling them for landscaping. 

feral hogs grazing

Photo Credit: Karla Brandt

The land along the St. Johns River corridor is important in maintaining water quality and provides valuable habitat in the chain of conservation lands that include Merritt Island National Refuge. Portions of the Salt Lake WMA were purchased by the St. Johns River Water Management District as early as 1982, with additional parcels added in 1999 under the Preservation 2000 Program.

Also known as feral pigs, wild boars, razorbacks and piney wood rooters, feral hogs are not Florida natives. The first hogs to go wild in Florida probably escaped from Hernando de Soto’s expedition through Florida. Today, Florida has more feral hogs than any other state except Texas.