Okefenokee Swamp | Blackwater, National Geographic Magazine: Fighting Fire With Fire

Smokey gray sky envelopes a small figure in a road wth orange flames burning trees.

Fire fighters carefully watch flames and smoke from a prescribed burn set in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Controlled fires in the swamp help reduce the thick undergrowth in the jungle-like environment. Lightening strikes from frequent summer storms cause wild fires, which can spread to private land.

The Okefenokee Swamp is a boggy, unstable wilderness in southern Georgia commonly known as “Land of the Trembling Earth.” More accurately translated, “Okefenokee” means “waters shaking” in Hitchiti, an extinct dialect in the Muskogean language family spoken in the Southeast by indigenous people related to Creeks and Seminoles.

Established as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1937, the 402,000-acre Okefenokee is the oldest well-preserved, freshwater marsh in the U.S., the largest peat-based “blackwater” swamp in North America, and one of the largest in the world.