In 1972, when constructing the Martin power plant and cooling pond, Florida Power & Light purchased the swamp and surrounding lands and set aside the Barley Barber Swamp as a wildlife preserve. Its natural beauty remains intact and provides a rare glimpse of the "Old Florida."
Located in western Martin County, the 400-acre Barley Barber Swamp consists of a cypress-stand ecosystem.
A slough that retains surface water throughout much of the year, the Barley Barber Swamp sustains ancient cypress trees and other hydrophytic (water-loving) plants. The slow-moving, coffee-colored water is home to diverse wildlife, from alligators to wading birds and turtles. Dappled sunlight filters through the cypress branches, illuminating the diverse vegetation below. Eagles soar overhead, and the echoes of drumming woodpeckers and singing birds comprise the soundtrack of the swamp.
As well as being a wildlife sanctuary, the site is also significant from an archaeological perspective. Pottery fragments and other artifacts have been found on the site, indicating Native American use between 300 and 900 years ago.
The Barley Barber Swamp is open for free, public tours by reservation. To learn more or schedule a tour, visit www.BarleyBarber.org.