Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Babcock Ranch Preserve Eco-Tours
Once part of the historic Crescent B Ranch, the Babcock Ranch Preserve was purchased by the state of Florida and Lee County in 2006 in what was the single largest state conservation land acquisition in Florida’s history. The preserve was established to protect regionally important water resources, diverse natural habitats, scenic landscapes, and historic, agricultural, and cultural resources in the rapidly developing southwest Florida corridor. On August 1, 2016, the Florida Forest Service began managing the Babcock Ranch Preserve as a working ranch while providing public recreational opportunities compatible with agricultural operations.
Babcock Ranch Preserve is located in southeastern Charlotte County approximately 18 miles east of Punta Gorda and 34 miles west of Lake Okeechobee.
Babcock Ranch Preserve includes a variety of improved range and natural communities, including pinelands, dry prairie, cypress domes and cypress swamps. Together with nearby conservation lands, the preserve provides habitat for wide-ranging species such as the Florida black bear and Florida panther and is home to the native wild turkey, white-tailed deer, northern bobwhite quail, crested caracara, gopher tortoise, red-cockaded woodpecker, eastern indigo snake and Florida burrowing owl. A dominant feature on the landscape is Telegraph Swamp, a cypress strand swamp located on the western half of the property. The preserve’s wetlands contribute to aquifer recharge for southwestern Florida and help maintain the health of the western Everglades ecosystem, particularly the Caloosahatchee River and Charlotte Harbor Estuary.
Current public access to the Babcock Ranch Preserve is available in the form of a hiking trail, an equestrian trail, and an eco-tour. Public hunting access is permitted on a portion of the preserve and is administered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Florida Forest Service will promote and encourage additional public access after careful consideration and evaluation, providing that those opportunities are fully compatible with agricultural operations and natural resource conservation goals.