All paintings by Ginette of the Okefenokee in Georgia. Okefenokee at a Glance The Okefenokee Swamp is located in Ware, Charlton, and Clinch Counties, Georgia and Baker County, Florida. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge was established by Executive Order in 1936. The Okefenokee Swamp covers 438,000 acres. It is 38 miles in length at its longest point by 25 miles in width at its widest point. The swamp is approximately 700 square miles. The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is over 402,000 acres. The wilderness area consists of 353,981 acres and was created by the Okefenokee Wilderness Act of 1974 which is part of the Wilderness Preservation System. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is the largest National Wildlife Refuge in the eastern United States. It is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which is under the Department of the Interior. The Okefenokee Swamp is approximately 7000 years old. It is a vast peat-filled bog inside a huge, saucer-shaped depression that was once part of the ocean floor. The elevation of the swamp varies. There is a 25 foot drop from the northwest side to the southwest side. The range in elevation is from 128 feet above sea level on the northeast side to 103 feet on the southwest side. The vegetative indicator of the natural swamp line is the presence of the saw palmetto. The Suwannee River is the principle outlet of the swamp. The Suwannee flows from the west side of the swamp and empties into the Gulf of Mexico near Cedar Key, Florida. The Suwannee River is 280 miles long. A small area of the southeastern part of the swamp is drained by the St. Marys River. The St. Marys River empties into the Atlantic near St. Marys, Georgia. The St. Marys River is 190 miles long. The Okefenokee Swamp derives its name from Choctaw Indian words meaning "quivering earth" or "Land of the Trembling Earth." The dark tea color of the swamp water is due to tannic acid, derived from dissolved vegetative material and peat. The entire swamp is covered with peat beds which overlay the sand floor. Peat is organic material formed by the decomposition of plants in water. In the Okefenokee Swamp, it takes about 50 years for one inch of peat to form at the base of the swamp. The peat ranges in depth from thin layers at the edges of the swamp and islands to more than 15 feet in places. The average depth of the peat is 5-10 feet. Unstable peat masses will tremble, giving the Okefenokee its name "Land of the Trembling Earth." Average annual temperature is 68 degrees F. The average annual rainfall is 60 inches. Rainfall accounts for approximately 95% of the water in the Okefenokee Swamp. 80% of the rainfall is returned to the atmosphere by evapotranspiration, leaving only 20% to find its way down the Suwannee and St. Mary's Rivers.
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