Many visitors come to Marco Island for the isolation and access to nature. It is a home away from home filled with natural treasures and virtually untouched beaches, parks and preserves.
The Briggs Nature Center exemplifies all of this and more. The center and preserve is located at 401 Shell Island Rd, Marco Island, FL. It is a perfect encapsulation of what makes Marco Island a prized Florida island worth exploring further.
The Basics of the Briggs Nature Center
The Briggs Nature Center is one of the key places to see for its diverse ecology. The area features many habitats and an estuary, where the mix of fresh and saltwater results in an important habitat for a variety of species.
Estuaries are a crucial habitat to protect for the sustainability of fishing and the overall ecosystem. Nearly 90% of fish harvested in the country spend a big part of their lives in fresh and saltwater estuaries, as reported by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The nature center has two main parts. The first is a small welcome center. A few volunteers are stationed in the center to introduce the area’s preservation history and what visitors can expect to find.
The main attraction is the nature center boardwalk trail. It winds and weaves through about a half mile of preserved island mangroves and 5 distinct habitats. The primary trail is a loop through scenic vistas and Florida wildlife. It is a main stop for hikers seeking an accessible pathway into the core of Marco Island.
The 5 Habitats
The trail is designed to encompass the widest diversity of Marco Island natural habitats. It runs through dry pine flatwoods, brackish ponds, to fringe marshes with peaking views of the gulf.
Two side paths have recently been opened to display an even deeper look at the Rookery Bay area. One particular side trail dead ends at a once-sighted bald eagle hatch.
What most guests hope to find is wildlife, and there’s plenty of it. The two primary candidates for “most likely to see” are alligators and ospreys. Baby alligators have been recorded and sighted in the area numerous times. It is absolutely essential you stay on the trail. Gators are known to wander freely through the marshes, and the boardwalk keeps you elevated above the brush and water.
Further wildlife on the trail includes river otters circling and floating on their backs, shouldered hawks, skinks, and a variety of snakes. The most impressive iconic reptile may be the beautifully coated indigo snake. Visitors coming by early in the morning or just before close should keep their eyes to the sightline on the lookout for curious bobcats.
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Marco Island is widely untracked and isolated, especially compared to other nearby parts of Florida. Preservation is an essential to maintain Marco Island’s natural magic.
The Briggs Boardwalk and Nature Center is part of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida group. The organization garners support for some of the most isolated wildlife areas of the region.
Yet these areas are still threatened by pollution, invasive local species, and even land developmental projects. The grassroots effort minimizes ecological footprints to maintain the sense of beauty and wonder that has come to define the well-preserved coastal habitats in the area.
Hours and Contact Details
You can ask any and all questions at the nature center directly. It is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and volunteers are stationed throughout the area and at the main nature center during all hours. You can call the Briggs Nature Center at 239-775-8569.
If you have questions about initiatives to preserve local wildlife and habitats, you can contact the Conservancy of Southwest Florida by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.