May in the Big Cypress Swamp
A Year Later (2006)

What a difference a year makes in the swamp. The previous May story was about how magical the swamp was in May. Green with growth and moisture in the air. One year later, hurricane Wilma has passed over and changed the swamp by downing both pine and cypress trees. Just a month ago, a fire caused by a lightning strike has burned 800 acres of the area near Camp Six Pack. The swamp is currently in a dry period and there is little water to be found. This caused the fire to burn intensely and made it difficult to put out. Unfortunately for one camp owner, their buildings burned down. They are about to find out, it is no longer simple to rebuild a camp in the Big Cypress Swamp. Early Morning Big Cypress Fog Colors
Last years Color Spectrum of Early Morning Cypress Fog
This spot is now burned ashes

Rebuilding from Hurricane Wilma

Blue Tarps at Camp Six Pack

Those of you that have seen the rebuilding after hurricane damage are probably familiar with the sight of blue tarps on roofs. That's the answer of a quick repair, while waiting to put on the permanent fix.  That's where we are at camp Six Pack, seven months after the hurricane, we are waiting on the permits to replace the damaged building. Even though the building has been there for over 4o years, now we have to get a "special treatment" environmental permit to allow replacing the building. We now have to show anything we ever want to do to the property, when applying for this permit or will have to pay more then the original permit cost to modify it later. The "building" permit department will not even talk to you until you have the environmental permit. We still have that battle to fight.

Hauling Rebuilding Material

Private Camp Burned

Over 40 years old, now gone

The Six Pack fire, that's what they called it. Not that I like the name, but they had to call it something I guess. A lightning strike, Tuesday night in the Cypress, just outside of Camp Six Pack, started a fire that took almost a week to put out. Fortunately for us, the wind was blowing away from camp Six Pack when the fire started. It was not fortunate for this camp owner. This camp probably burned, before the NPS discovered the fire. The fire was spotted by a panther tracking plane, Wednesday morning and fire fighting crews were dispatched. This camp did not have a fire break of low green grass around it and that is what did it in.

I do have to give the NPS credit for protecting private camps, because I looked at three other camps threatened by this fire. I can see where the NPS created a  back fire on the outer edge of each camp's firebreak to protect the camp from burning. Good Job!
I believe there were four agencies fighting the fire to get it out. Tough to do in the dry season. How hot do these fires get. A close look at the camp shows the aluminum walls melted. That happens at about 900 to 1200 degrees, depending on the aluminum alloy mix.

One of the problems with rebuilding in the middle of a swamp is getting the material to the site. 11 miles from the nearest road and you can be sure nobody delivers. So as all camp owners know, it is a do it your self deal. Its buying, hauling, installing, all done by the owner and friends, not an easy task at all.

Now, I'm sure the NPS is looking at this and saying, "why are you hauling materials, you don't have a permit?" Well, next month it is going to rain and then it is going to rain and rain and rain, until October. Who knows how many hurricanes we will see this summer,  so its now or never, to get the stuff through the dry swamp to camp.

Monroe Station

After hurricane Wilma beat up Monroe Station last year, the NPS has removed some of the add on portions and are getting down to the original structure. The plywood over the openings should help it survive another hurricane season. It is slated to be restored when funding has been provided by the legislature.

New Six Pack Visitors
Out enjoying the day, Logan, Kim and Scott found Six Pack and stopped by to chat for a while. Its always nice to meet new people.  This is a good time of the year to explore the Big Cypress Swamp. Its dry right now and it is much easier to get around.

Repeat Six Pack Visitor

After skipping a year, this 6 foot alligator has returned to the hole under the pine tree near our camp kitchen. When the water gets really low, this is a place of refuge for alligators. They can rest in the water, its cooler and a safe place from fires. Last year a little 3 foot alligator called the place home.


  Story by Steve June 1, 2006