Seminoles shooting gators Florida Photo Archives
Seminoles shooting alligators

For thousands of years before Europeans arrived, Native peoples thrived in south Florida by hunting, fishing, and gathering of wild plants and shellfish. On nearby Corbett Wildlife Management Area are two significant archeological sites, Big Mound City and Big Gopher Mound. Hundreds of years after members of the original native cultures were gone, mostly dead from European diseases to which they had no resistance, the Seminole Indians, newcomers to Florida from Georgia and Alabama, sought refuge from the U.S. Army in Hungryland Slough until starvation forced them to surrender.

The slough itself is on Corbett Wildlife Management Area, but the region as a whole became known to local ranchers as the Hungryland. In the late 1800s trading posts were established at Indiantown and Jupiter. Here Indians who had remained after the Seminole Wars came to trade plumes, alligator skins, deer hides and meat, sweet potatoes, melons, huckleberries, starch from the coontie root, and other natural products for manufactured goods.


photo early travelers
Florida Photo Archives
Early travelers on the Jupiter-Indiantown Road.

Around the turn of the century, pioneer families began settling the area, establishing citrus groves, farms, and cattle ranches along the newly cut Jupiter-Indiantown Road. Virgin timber was harvested and sawmills to process the lumber were established. Known as the Central-Dixie Highway and designated SR 29 by the State Road Department, the Jupiter-Indiantown Road was heavily used by area residents until paved roads were constructed from Indiantown to Jupiter in the late 1950s.

In the late 1960s the area currently known as Pal Mar, of which the Jones/Hungryland Wildlife and Environmental Area is a part, was the victim of a real estate scheme. Developers sold several thousand residential lots, mainly to out-of-state buyers. Deep canals were cut in an attempt to drain the property for development. Because the developers had failed to file the proper plans, Martin County filed a lawsuit that put an end to drainage of the property. The citizens of Martin and Palm Beach counties regarded the land as a conservation area, and the Martin County Conservation Alliance and other conservation groups conducted interpretive tours across the property.

The land was purchased in 1994 and 1997 under the Save Our Rivers program and in 1999 under the Conservation and Recreation Lands Program. The WEA honors the conservation legacy of Johnny and Marianna Jones, passionate advocates for the protection of fish and wildlife resources throughout Florida. During their 61-year marriage, the couple lobbied for environmental issues, were leaders of the Florida Wildlife Federation and were instrumental in the establishment of over 3 million acres of public lands, including the John C. and Mariana Jones/Hungryland WEA.

FWC Facts:
Over 200 species of birds migrate between their breeding grounds in the United States and Canada and their wintering areas in Mexico, Central and South America or the Caribbean.

Learn More at AskFWC