Six Mile Cypress Slough: Development & Unintended Consequences

I recently returned to Fort Myers, Florida. I went to the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve yesterday to take a walk. I sought refuge. I sought tranquility. I sought nature. I found one of the three. The egrets stalked the marshes. The ibises flocked to the cypress trees on the west bank of the large pond. The song of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo resounded throughout the cadence of the crickets. The descending sun cast soft pink and red hues against the backdrop of a slowly deepening blue sky. This natural beauty was blanketed with the dull roar of the traffic just outside of the preserve on Six Mile Cypress Road, which was recently expanded from two to four lanes.

Large Pond at Six Mile Cypress Slough

Large pond at Six Mile Cypress Slough

I walked further into the preserve along its modest, well kept boardwalk with hope to escape. I listened as the avalanche of noise pursued. I continued left at the fork in the boardwalk, opting to take the long way around. I stopped at the observatory at Wood Duck Pond. I paused and surveyed the scene. The birds were settling in for the night. The insects were ramping up to a feverish pitch of song. Somewhere, an alligator waited for dark, unnoticed. Yet, there it was, with me all along. The mix of the rumble of engines and the drone of tires. It followed in a perpetual state of approaching. When would it end?

Young Cypress Tree Bends Along Boardwalk

A young Cypress Tree bends along the  boardwalk

I pushed onward. I admired the adaptability of the young cypress trees to grow around one another and manmade obstacles. One in particular bent away from the boardwalk and straightened back out to reach towards the sky, boasting as nature’s own limbo act. At Otter Pond, a box turtle appeared at the surface. It gazed up at me. I understood her concern. I told her I didn’t know how to turn it off or turn it down. She dipped back in and swam away. 

I hurried towards the exit while contemplating the costs of “progress” and convenience. I stopped short to read a sign attached to the boardwalk.IMG_2304

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