ESTERO BAY PRESERVE STATE PARK
The first aquatic preserve established in Florida, this is one of the most productive estuaries in the state. The bay is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the bald eagle. The preserve protects the water, inlets, and islands along 10 miles of Estero Bay. Visitors can canoe or kayak in the bay or on the Estero River. Launch facilities are available at Koreshan State Historic Site and Lovers Key/Carl E. Johnson State Park. Miles of trails offer visitors the opportunity to hike, bicycle, or study the variety of wildlife and native vegetation protected here. There are gopher tortoises, fiddler crabs, slash pines, and live oaks.
Estero Bay Preserve State Park encompasses approximately 10,000 acres, and continues to grow as more environmentally sensitive land is acquired. Originally called the Estero Bay State Buffer Preserve, the land was purchased to protect the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve from the impacts associated with development. The Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve was the first aquatic preserve designated under Florida Statutes, in 1966, and the Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Coastal and Aquatic Managed Areas (CAMA) managed the aquatic and buffer preserves. In January 1, 2004, the preserve became known as the Estero Bay Preserve State Park and is managed in conjunction with Koreshan State Historic Site and Mound Key Archeological State Park, under the Department of Recreation and Parks (DRP). The aquatic preserve is still managed by CAMA. Preservation and the protection of Estero Bay?s water quality is a primary focus of the managing partnership between CAMA and DRP.
For those of you interested in launching a boat, kayak, or canoe, the Preserve has no such facilities, but Koreshan State Historic Site does have a boat ramp along the Estero River.