Partner logos: Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, National Park Service, University of Montana Wilderness.net Logo
Connecting federal employees, scientists, educators, and the public with their wilderness heritage

Island Bay Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning
Photograph taken in  the Island Bay Wilderness

Introduction

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.

Description

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 765 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.