Empty Skies over Picayune Strand

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Pine rockland forest used to dominate all the dry ground in South Florida. Now, it is exists in just a few remote corners, like here in Picayune Strand State Forest.

Picayune Strand State Forest is one of the weirdest places in the Everglades. After being logged, it was sold off to a developer, who tried to turn it into a subdivision called “Golden Gate Estates.” It was a scam, which later became known as the “Swampland in Florida” scam. He paved all the roads and divided it up into large lots, but he only showed the land to prospective sellers in winter or by air, so they couldn't see the swampy nature of the land they were buying. The vast majority of land was not suitable for building a house, even after extensive draining. It sat unused, and later the Florida state government began buying the land back to protect the environment, after it became clear how much the Everglades drainage was harming the ecosystem. What's so weird about Picayune Strand now is that all the roads remain. You can walk through raw South Florida wilderness, but on paved roads, almost like some sort of post-apocalyptic alternate reality.

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