The United States Congress designated the Island Bay Wilderness (map
) in 1970 and it now has a total of 20 acres
(20.24 acres, technically).
All of this wilderness is located in Florida
and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The tangled masses of roots stemming from mangrove trees often intertwine to form islands, a haven for pelicans, herons, and egrets. The four small mangrove islands and two small mangrove points were given protected status by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 when they became what is now known as Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The Island Bay Wilderness was established in 1970 as one of the smallest units (totaling a mere 20 acres) in the National Wilderness Preservation System. J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge now manages the refuge.
No access is provided to these islands, but several shell mounds pay tribute to the Native Americans who once called them home. Illegal digging for artifacts has caused great harm to this critical bird habitat, a fragile ecology best viewed from a boat anchored at a respectful distance of at least 200 feet.