NATURE ON THE RIDGE
The Lake Wales Ridge
A ridge of ancient sand dunes extends for almost 115 miles from north to south, varying in width from four to 10 miles, through Central Florida. Formed about 650,000 years ago, these sand islands, over time, hosted a marvelous variety of plants and animals.
The Lake Wales Ridge, while heavily impacted by agriculture and development, is still home to a large variety of living things, some unique to specific areas of the Ridge. Orange groves, farming, development, and industry have fragmented the natural communities to a large extent. Some areas are being preserved through various means, including a state forest and national wildlife refuge, along with state and county parks and preserves.
A major natural feature of the Lake Wales Ridge is scrub. Scrub is generally found in sandy, dry, infertile areas, and consists of shrubby oaks, pines, and other evergreen plants. Scrub is often in open areas, sometimes with a pine canopy. As many as 27 rare plant species grow in scrub along the Ridge. Butterflies and other insects, skinks, and the Florida Scrub Jay, considered endangered, are among the many other occupants of this habitat.