Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park is rich in cultural resources from the pre- and post-Columbian cultures. Humans have used the lands surrounding Charlotte Harbor for thousands of years. Shell middens and mounds are the earliest most visible evidence of past use at the Preserve. Archaeological sites on public lands are protected by law. Acquisition of the Preserve lands began in the 1970s. In 2004, the management of the Preserve was transferred to the Florida Park Service and it is now called the Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park.
The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center (CHEC) is a non-profit corporation that has a visitor's center, and offers environmental education programs, interpretive guided hikes, and several miles of marked trails.
With more than 80 miles of shore, the Charlotte Harbor Preserve is fringed by shallow water and mangroves. These areas provide amazing opportunities to view wading birds, manatees, dolphins and other wildlife. Kayaking and canoeing is the best mode of transportation. The Great Calusa Blueway in Lee County and the Charlotte County Blueway in Charlotte County are two paddle trail systems that wind through the park. (Photo by Lowell Gehman)
Photo of Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park before restoration efforts to remove backfilled ditches and exotic vegetation.
Estuaries act as critical nurseries for fish and other aquatic life. Bottlenose dolphins break the water's surface and manatees feed on the seagrasses.