FOLKSTON, Ga. (AP) - Wildfires burning in southeast Georgia are forcing rangers to keep the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge closed to the public during what's typically a busy holiday weekend.
Art Webster, the refuge's supervisory ranger, says the Okefenokee normally sees a noticeable bump in visitors over the Fourth of July as summer tourists head outdoors for boating, fishing and nature watching.
This year the refuge has been closed for about two months because of the vast Honey Prairie fire that's burned about 450 square miles in the Okefenokee Swamp. While firefighters have successfully protected many of the refuge's manmade structures, flames severely damaged the popular boardwalk built by refuge staff in the 1960s.
The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 620 acres near the Georgia-Florida line. About 400,000 people visit every year.