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Ochlockonee River's white squirrels are not albinos, but a gene mutation of the gray squirrel. They are native to the park and local area. Pine flatwoods depend on fire to maintain their healthy ecosystems. Ochlockonee has one of the best examples of pine flatwoods left in Florida. Ochlockonee River offers a multitude of water-based recreational opportunities, including swimming, boating, canoeing, water skiing and fishing. Ochlockonee River provides water access for a variety of vessels ranging from small kayaks to large sea-going boats.
Ochlockonee River State Park
Ochlockonee River State Park delivers beautiful views of river basins, saltmarshes and open pine flatwoods.

History and Culture

A pre-Columbian Native American shell midden dating back possibly to the Weedon Island Period 1,500 years ago sits along the shore of the Dead River. The midden was identified in 1998. Cat-faced pine trees scattered throughout the park serve as evidence of the late 1800s turpentine industry. Trees were scarred to release resin when processed into turpentine. On May 14, 1970, the state of Florida acquired the property through a land exchange with the U.S. Department of Interior and was renamed Ochlockonee River State Park.

Ochlockonee River has served as a camping area since the early 1900s.

Camping, 1900s

Throughout the years, people have used the Ochlockonee River and its surroundings for recreational activities. In the early 1900s, many families would camp at the point locally known as the 'pull-over.' Here they fished, swam, boated and enjoyed nature. The term 'pull-over' comes from the days when timbered trees were pulled from the Dead River over to the Ochlockonee River and floated to saw mills. The Florida Park Service acquired the Ochlockonee River property in 1970 and developed the park as it is today. Swimming, camping, fishing and boating are still the main attractions of the park.

Turpentine stills like this one were trademarks of an industry once common along the Ochlockonee River and in other parts of Florida.

Turpentine Still

The turpentine industry was important to the local economy throughout the early 1900s. Much of the land around the Ochlockonee River was used for turpentining. Even now, cat-face scars can be found on trees in the park. A cat-face consists of a series of marks cut into the face of a pine tree that allowed resin to drain into a collection cup. Resin was then processed into turpentine at a still. The turpentine industry slowly died out as advanced techniques were developed to collect resin from timbered trees. Remnants of the turpentine industry found within the park are considered cultural resources and are protected.

The 30-year-old prescribed burn program helps preserve fire-dependant habitats, such as the one shown here.

Prescribed Burning

Florida receives more lightning strikes than almost any other place in the world. Much of Florida's plant and animal life is either fire-dependent or fire-adapted. Most natural fires in Florida occur in the growing season. By mimicking these natural fires, park staff can maintain an environment similar to the landscape hundreds of years ago while also helping to prevent dangerous wildfires.

A Florida Park Service employee works on a prescribed burn at Ochlockonee River State Park.

Burn Program

Ochlockonee River has maintained a prescribed burn program for 30 years. Mimicking natural fires, periodic prescribed burns provide for higher plant and animal diversity. Ochlockonee River has many rare and endangered species that depend on the prescribed burn program for their proliferation. The burn program also benefits the park and the surrounding area by greatly reducing the threat of wildfire within the park.

Ochlockonee River is one of the few state parks with a resident population of red-cockaded woodpeckers.

Woodpecker

Ochlockonee River is one of the few state parks with a resident population of red-cockaded woodpeckers. Visitors from around the world come to the park to catch a glimpse of these rare birds. The park partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor these avians.