Lake Wales Ridge Hilary Cajuste

Polk and Highlands County; 1,857 .58 acres

The ridge started as a progression of sand islands, that form in an era that scientists called the Pleistocene epoch, the very beginning. It is believed that these sand islands came together when ocean level was higher than today. Over thousands of years, the rising and falling oceans uncovered and secured a great part of the Florida Peninsula. When the polar ice caps melted and the waters rose, the ridges remained and formed islands that cover most of florida. The animals that lived on these island gained interesting characteristics from their other relatives. The Lake Wales Ridge is the largest of these ridges and it is in the center of Florida.

  • The Ridge is around 110 miles in length, running from south of Lake Placid to north of Clermont; and midpoints around 15 miles in width.
  • US 27 runs on top of the Ridge.
  • The Lake Wales Ridge is the biggest, most astounding, and the most established of the ridges of Central Florida. Other close-by ridges are the Winter Haven Ridge, Bombing Range Ridge, and the Mount Dora Ridge.
  • The average height of the Lake Wales Ridge is around 100 feet above sea level.

biotic features

The Lake Wales Ridge, other wise known as the Refuge was established in 1993 as the first refuge designated for the recovery of endangered and threatened plants. The Refuge contains 23 listed plants, at least four listed animals, and more than 40 endemic invertebrates. The Refuge is part of a network of scrub preserves owned by the state of Florida, The Nature Conservancy, and the Archbold Biological Station

AutoBiotic features

The Lake Wales Ridge is the heart of Central Florida, and contains special land include that keeps running for around 150 miles through Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk and Highlands districts. 40 types of endangered plants and creatures populate the Ridge.

Sunlight, animals and plants

Sunlight is necessary for photosynthesis, which is a process that creates food for plants. Food for the plants then become food for the animals.

Fire and plants

Period between fires is what determines which plant communities will grow. Without firebreaks, whenever there is lightning everything would just burn.

Temperature and plants

Water is far below the sandy surface. The temperature significantly drops when the sun goes down which causes moisture to condense on the leaves. Moisture then falls in drops above the roots.

Serenoa repens

Saw palmetto is a palm-like plant with berries. The berries were a staple food and medicine for the Native Americans of the southeastern United States. Grows in clumps growing up to 7-10 ft tall.

Scrub oaks

A common name for six species of small, shrubby oaks.

Scrub Blazing Star

This species was recorded as an endangered species in 1989.


Evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers.

Sand skinK

The sand skink is a small, slender, grey to light brown lizard with shiny scales that can reach a length of five inches. They have limbs that are greatly reduced legs with one toe on each front limb and two toes on each hind limb.

Scrub jay

Lives only in Florida scrub, areas of short scrubby oaks growing on sandy soil., mostly in isolated pockets, and the jays rarely wander away from their own little patch of scrub, making them extremely endangered.

Short tailed snake

A small harmless colubrid snake. It is found only in sandy, upland parts of Florida where it is listed as endangered and is protected by state law.

Highlands tiger beetle

Unique insects that live in the Lake Wales Ridge. Both the adults and immature stages are predacious and feed on other insects. Populations of this beautiful beetle are small and scattered.

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