BIRD-WATCHING TOURS Stormwater Treatment Areas are the water-cleaning workhorses of Everglades restoration, but they are also renowned havens for birds and bird watchers. The SFWMD has partnered with local Audubon Society chapters to offer bird-watching tours at these STAs:
STARGAZING From asteroids to zodiac constellations, amateur astronomers can prop up their telescopes on select SFWMD public lands and gaze at the natural wonders of the night sky – away from urban lights. We've identified some locations where conditions are ideal for stargazing. Locations »
The South Florida Water Management District is the steward for more than 1 million acres of public land. Over the years, we've taken great strides to expand public recreational opportunities on land purchased with public dollars – and it keeps getting better.
Each year we take steps to enhance and expand recreational use of all District-owned property throughout our 16-county region. Activities at each location are compatible with natural resources protection and intended land use priorities.
We invite you to explore recreational opportunities on your public lands. Our colorful, 117-page recreation guide is packed with information. You'll find a comprehensive listing of lands available for public use and access – as well as maps, descriptions, suggested outings, driving directions and contact information for each location.
In certain instances, a no-cost Special Use License, issued by the South Florida Water Management District, may be required for vehicle access to SFWMD lands with locked gates or for some activities, such as camping or horseback riding.
Most recreational activities on District lands are managed by agencies such as the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission or other state, federal, county or city governments in partnership with the South Florida Water Management District. Most licenses for hunting or fishing must be obtained from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee offer some of the best boating and fishing opportunities in Central and South Florida. Navigation locks throughout this interconnected system ensure that it is accessible by the public for recreation.
Along the route, there are 12 locks maintained by the South Florida Water Management District and five maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
It takes about 15 minutes to lock through most structures. This service is free to boaters locking through during normal operating hours.
All SFWMD locks on the Kissimmee River and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes are operated from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekdays year-round. Hours of operation on weekends are from 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from March 1 through Oct. 31.
S-65E at Kissimmee River, Okeechobee/Glades County
S-65D in Okeechobee/Highlands County
S-65C in Okeechobee/Highlands County
S-65A in Osceola/Polk County
S-65 on Lake Kissimmee in Osceola/Polk County
S-61 on Cypress Lake and Lake Tohopekaliga in Osceola County
The Okeechobee Waterway stretches 154 miles from the Atlantic Ocean at Stuart to the Gulf of Mexico at Fort Myers. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates these five navigation locks on the waterway:
S-77, S-78 and S-79, Fort Myers to Moore Haven, Caloosahatchee River
S-80 and S-308, Port Mayaca to Stuart, St. Lucie River