[ The amazing natural environment of Polk County ]

Polk County contains the highest ground on the Florida Peninsula, as well as hundreds of square miles of wetlands. The relatively sharp elevation contrasts give Polk one of the most diverse varieties of plant and animal life in the United States.

Polk County is home to more than 550 significant lakes, which provide rich habitat for a wide variety of species. Learn more from the Lakes Education/ Action Drive

The high ground of the Lake Wales Ridge in eastern Polk County was once a chain of islands. When sea levels were much higher than today, about three million years ago, species isolated on this island chain evolved in unique ways, much differently than their mainland relatives.

Today, this natural history has blessed the Ridge with North America's highest concentration of rare and endangered species, our eqivalent of the Galapagos Islands, or South America's tropical rain forests.

Some of the remaining fragments of this unique environment have recently been protected in a scattered network of preserves, owned and managed by Polk County (the CLASAC program), The State of Florida (Preservation 2000), and the US government (the Lake Wales Ridge National Wildllife Refuge), as well as private groups like The Nature Conservancy, and the Green Horizon Land Trust.

Most of the sites in this preserve network are already open for visitation. Recreational opportunities offered include passive recreation such as hiking, birding, camping, horseback riding, canoeing, and in some areas, active recreation like fishing and hunting.

To learn more about these preserves, and their environments, check out the following links:


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