Island Bay Wilderness
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 when they became what is now known as Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The Island Bay Wilderness was established as one of the smallest units in the National Wilderness Preservation System. J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge now manages the refuge.
Several shell mounds pay tribute to the Native Americans who once called the area 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. Visitors may view wildlife or fish off shore, but may not access the wilderness.
Closed Wilderness Areas
Ten of the National Wilderness Preservation System's 803 wilderness areas are closed to access and use by the general public. Most of these closed areas are managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
The core mission of the Service's National Wildlife Refuge System is conservation of native fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats. The Island Bay Wilderness, part of the Island Bay National Wildlife Refuge, is closed to visitation to protect wildlife and other natural, cultural, and/or other resources consistent with the conservation purpose(s) of the refuge. Wilderness designation provides an additional level of protection for the wilderness portion of this refuge, but does not open the area to public access or use.