The Slough Habitat

Cypress in Slough Water

Cypress Knees – store food and water

Laura Ingalls-Wilder wrote a series of books about her family’s life as pioneers in the early United States frontier territory. It includes the well-known title ‘Little House on the Prairie’. Toward the end of the series, the family settled near DeSmet, South Dakota where, several times, an area known as the ‘big slough’ became part of the story such as providing hay for feeding the animals in ‘The Long Winter” or the fears of children getting lost within it. But what exactly is a slough?

A slough (pronounced ‘slew’) is a large body of slowly moving freshwater. It is not a river or stream which moves fast. It is not a lake or pond which sits still or stagnant. It is a lot of water that creeps along. Some have wet and dry seasons. The wet seasons usually bring an abundance of animal births and tree fruiting while the dry season gives the ground flowers a chance to bloom. They are not common, but some are scattered across the country. As an unusual habitat, they can have diverse and unusual plants and animals to go along with them.


A few years ago, my family was traveling on Interstate 90 which runs about 50 miles south of DeSmet, South Dakota. We took the opportunity to visit. My daughter had a wonderful time at the Ingalls Farm (which is now a visitor center) as well as walking through town and seeing many of the places mentioned in the stories (almost all of them are visitor centers). The strong prairie winds made for the best kite flying weather we have had in years … right in the backyard of the Ingalls Farm. A remnant of the Big Slough still exists a short drive, or walk, away from the farm. Much of the area has been drained for development and farmland. The section we looked at is a mixture of the grasses they would have experienced and cattail marsh. Yet, being there and exploring a little, I had a glimpse into how this habitat could both help and hinder the life of the Ingalls family. Soggy, wet, and with grasses sometimes as tall as I am do make it a formidable place if one is not prepared.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve

Boston Fern

Boston Fern on Floating Log

The most interesting slough I have visited so far is Six Mile Cypress Slough near Fort Myers, Florida. This is a somewhat developed park with a visitor center and some trails. It acts as a drainage way into Estero Bay with a depth of 2-3 feet during the wet season.

American White Ibis

American White Ibis – feeding

This place will keep you on your toes as you enjoy the scenery, try to keep your feet dry, and avoid the snakes, alligators, and wild boars. As a preserve, this place is rich with wildife and plants. It is a great place for bird watchers. It also has stately old cypress trees.


Todd Elder

Todd Elder

Todd Elder has a deep desire to understand and experience Creation. As a Baraminologist, his current research includes developing the Katagenos Species Concept, the Natanzera Classification System, and the Floral Formula Method of determining Plant Kinds. As an author and speaker, his books and seminar materials are designed to encourage a growing relationship with the Creator.
Todd Elder

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