Cape Coral Florida
Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge
Location: the refuge is located within the Matlacha Pass estuary Lee County, FL, approximately 8 miles northwest of Ft. Myers.
Administered as part of the J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
The refuge encompasses 23 islands and consists primarily of tidaly influenced wetlands with low sand and shell ridges. The vegetation of many of the islands is almost exclusively red mangrove but on some islands the interior wetlands will be dominated by black mangroves, often mixed with white mangroves and buttonwood. The sand and shell ridges are vegetated with cabbage palms and tropical species such as seagrape, strangler fig and gumbo limbo.
The refuge uplands and wetlands are maintained in their natural condition in order to provide undisturbed habitat for birds, fish, invertebrates and other animals. The refuge is used as a nesting and roosting area by an assortment of colonial birds.
To protect and provide suitable habitat for endangered and threatened species including the West Indian manatee, wood stork, eastern indigo snake, American crocodile and bald eagle.
To implement sound wildlife management techniques to provide feeding, nesting, and roosting habitat for a wide diversity of shore birds, wading birds, waterfowl, raptors and neo-tropical migratory species.
To provide wildlife-oriented recreation compatible with the purposes for which the refuge was established.
Public Use Opportunities
Boat access only.
Questions and Answers
Where is Matlacha Pass NWR?
Matlacha Pass National Wildlife Refuge is located in Lee County, Florida. It is located south of Charlotte Harbor between the eastern boundary of Pine Island and the western boundary of Cape Coral. The refuge currently includes 23 islands and is 512 acres in size. The nearest population center is the city of Fort Myers, located approximately 10 miles to the east.
How do I get there?
Access to the islands that make up the Matlacha Pass NWR is by boat only. Boaters should consult navigational charts and tide schedules before attempting to visit any of the refuge islands. Shallow back bay/estuary waters are difficult to navigate and damage to fragile seagrass beds is common due to boaters running aground.
Where is the refuge closed to public uses?
The Matlacha Pass NWR receives little public use, as most of the islands have no uplands and access is difficult in the mangrove areas. Occasionally, boaters visit some of the islands with uplands, such as McCardle Island, but mosquitoes are usually so numerous that visiting any of the islands is extremely uncomfortable. Skimmer Island, Lower Bird Island, Givney Key, Upper Bird Island and Lumpkin Island are all closed to public access due to fact that they are roosting and nesting islands for herons, egrets and pelicans.
information provided by US Fish and Wildlife Service