Deep in the shady tupelo and cypress swamps of the floodplain, dark, rich water bleeds into the broader flow of a large alluvial river that makes its way to one of the most productive estuaries in the northern hemisphere of our planet. This gem of natural diversity that we call the Apalachicola River and Bay System rivals some the most remote places on earth for sheer sense of wilderness. Although the Reserve itself is a relatively small parcel, it is connected in a sprawling watershed that traverses three states and covers nearly 20,000 square miles. The upper reaches of the basin begin about 90 miles above Atlanta, where the Chattahoochee originates as a small mountain stream. Flowing south for 436 miles it meets the 350 mile long Flint River at the Florida state line. Below this point we call the river Apalachicola as it stretches 107 miles to the Gulf of Mexico
Florida’s Apalachicola reserve protects one of the most productive estuarine systems in the northern hemisphere. Its 246,000 acres span three barrier islands, the lower 52 miles of the Apalachicola River, adjoining uplands, and the Apalachicola Bay estuarine, riverine, and floodplain systems. The reserve is a major forage area for migratory birds and supports a local fishing industry worth up to $16 million annually.