Audubon Florida News

Topic: Corkscrew Swamp,Water Issues

Audubon Helps CREW Celebrate 25 Years in Southwest Florida

posted on January 31, 2014 in Corkscrew Swamp,Water Issues

crewboardFounded in 1989, the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) Land and Water Trust’s mission was to protect the 60,000 acre watershed surrounding Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.  Proposed by longtime Sanctuary Director emeritus, Ed Carlson and former Audubon researcher, Mike Duever to maintain the water levels at the Swamp, it formally became a great example of a private-public partnership where Lee and Collier Counties, the South Florida Water Management District, private landowners, developers, and conservation interests have now protected almost 50,000 acres of this wild, wetland landscape!

The CREW Trust Board and many members and supporters celebrated CREW’s 25th Anniversary at the CREW office in the woods on Friday, January 24. All re-dedicated themselves to finishing the job of protecting the entire 60,000 acres.


A Florida Panther Enjoys Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

posted on October 28, 2013 in Corkscrew Swamp,Everglades,Wildlife

A remote trail cam caught this incredible Florida panther enjoying Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s world-famous boardwalk. If you haven’t yet visited this special place, it’s time to make the trip and enjoy a day in beautiful natural southwest Florida.

Sunflowers at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

posted on October 9, 2013 in Corkscrew Swamp

Corkscrew Sunflowers by Margaret Spontak

May Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Newsletter Now Available

posted on May 15, 2013 in Corkscrew Swamp

Corkscrew-Swamp-Sanctuary1The May edition of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s eNewsletter is now available, click here to view!

Experience Corkscrew’s moonlit boardwalk and ancient bald cypress forest at the next After Hours event themed “Reptiles & Frogs,” on Wednesday, May 22, when the Sanctuary remains open until 9 p.m., past its regular 5:30 p.m. closing. Guided walks, reptile learning stations and live music are among the highlights of the event. Visitors are also invited to attend a “Frogs and Toads in Collier County” talk with Becky Speer, a naturalist from the Naples Preserve at 6 p.m. as well as a “Bat Walk & Talk” with naturalist and photographer Ralph Arwood at 7:30 p.m., which includes acoustic bat monitoring on the boardwalk.

  • Friday, June 21, 2013 Summer Solstice
  • Friday, July 12, 2013: Moths, Fireflies & Ghost Orchid

Ft. Myers ABC Channel 7: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s wildlife feeding frenzy wowing tourists

posted on April 3, 2013 in Corkscrew Swamp,Everglades,Wildlife WZVN News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral

Press Statement: Audubon’s Jason Lauritsen on USFWS Intent to Downlist Wood Storks

posted on December 18, 2012 in Corkscrew Swamp,Everglades,Wildlife

woodstork-rjwiley_flipAudubon Florida has substantial concerns about Wood Storks throughout the Greater Everglades, the most important part of their range. Today’s announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) signaled their intent to downlist the Wood Stork from Endangered to Threatened.

Audubon supports downlisting species once:

  1. the threats which led to population declines have been adequately addressed, and
  2. populations rebound, meeting or exceeding recovery thresholds adopted in the species’ USFWS Recovery Plan.

Unfortunately, these conditions have not yet been met for the stork in a large part of their historic range. Significant threats remain that would prevent recovery in South Florida.

The colony at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the Western Everglades has historically been the largest and most consistent nesting colony in the US. However, storks have failed to nest at Corkscrew in five of the past six seasons. This season is likely to be another with no nesting.

Habitat loss, specifically the loss of shallow wetlands which contribute to foraging opportunities early in the nesting season, are a primary cause of the Wood Storks’ decline in South Florida. The foraging functions provided by these shallow wetlands continue to receive inadequate regulatory protections.

Florida and the federal government have invested billions of dollars in Everglades restoration, but a future Everglades absent a healthy Wood Stork population is the mark of failure. Recovery of this iconic bird – North America’s only native stork – in its traditional home in the Everglades is a worthy conservation goal.

Vital Wetland Gains Achieved in Mirasol Settlement Near Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

posted on August 22, 2012 in Corkscrew Swamp,Everglades,Wildlife

Audubon Florida and four other conservation groups achieved substantial wetland protection and restoration in a landmark settlement resulting from a disputed golf course development—Mirasol—which threatened beautiful Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the Western Everglades.

After a decade of opposition, agency debate and litigation, the groups, also including Collier Audubon, Florida and National Wildlife Federations, and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, obtained 1100 additional acres of restored wetland habitat.  Together with gains by the same coalition from a 2010 settlement of two adjacent developments, over 3,500 acres of wetland habitat will now be permanently preserved and enhanced or restored near Corkscrew Swamp.

“Research indicates Wood Storks are declining in southwest Florida due to the loss of quality foraging habitat early in their nesting season.  This settlement, along with those in 2010, will result in the restoration and protection of many hundreds of acres of shallow, seasonal wetlands and should add significantly to foraging opportunities for storks nesting in the Western Everglades,” said Jason Lauritsen, Acting Director and Wood Stork researcher at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

In order to prevent future developments from destroying wetlands, Audubon and its allies are working with regulatory agencies to improve Clean Water Act and state permitting practices and rules. In addition, collaborative work with landowners is yielding tremendous habitat outcomes before reaching the permitting stage by using incentives, acquisition, easements, and innovative land use policies. Sustaining wetlands in the Western Everglades is critical for the Wood Stork’s future and congratulations are in order for the groups’ diligence securing wide scale habitat protection.

Please see the following news articles for more information:

Press Release: Rare Ghost Orchid Blooms at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

posted on August 10, 2012 in Corkscrew Swamp

Media Contact: Beth Preddy

Preddy PR, 239-435-3938

Rare Ghost Orchid Blooms at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Naples, Fla. (August 3, 2012) – Five flowers and one bud have bloomed on the rare ghost orchid at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, growing on an ancient bald cypress tree in Corkscrew’s old growth forest. The “Super Ghost” is 50 feet high on the tree, and can be seen from Corkscrew’s boardwalk using binoculars or a spotting scope. To see the orchid, visitors walk less than one mile from the entrance to interpretive sign number-seven. Area biologists have nicknamed this specimen the “Super Ghost” since ghost orchids might have between one and three blossoms per year, if they bloom at all.  Binocular rentals are available at the admissions desk. Serious photographers should bring powerful telephoto lenses.

Corkscrew’s staff is on “orchid watch” and updates the Sanctuary website and Facebook page on a regular basis with ghost orchid news. See

The ghost orchid, preyed upon by poachers, was the subject of bestselling author Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief and the subsequent movie Adaptation.

“People are fascinated by orchids, and the ghost orchid is one of the rarest specimens,” said Jason Lauritsen, executive director of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. “The appeal of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary ghost orchid is that it is visible from our public boardwalk, and this particular plant has a history of displaying multiple flowers at once and blooming multiple times in succession, which gives people more of a chance to get to Naples and see it.”

The ghost orchid (Polyrrhiza lindenii) is an extremely rare, epiphytic orchid that grows without leaves on the trunks of trees in a small concentrated area of Southwest Florida. The plants are usually only visible to intrepid adventurers who must hike through hip deep water in the area’s cypress, pop ash and pond apple sloughs to reach them.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a legendary Audubon preserve located in the heart of the western Everglades, and the premier outdoor environmental education center in Southwest Florida. It is located just northeast of Naples, 15 miles from I-75 on Immokalee Road (Exit 111). Hours are 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. until September 30 with the last guests admitted by 6:30 pm each day. Cost: Adults, $10; full-time college student with photo ID, $6; National Audubon Society member with ID card, $5; student (6-18 years old), $4; children younger than 6, free. Visitors are advised to call the Sanctuary at 239-348-9151 for daily updates on the flower’s status.


Save Your Stubs! Lorax Movie Ticket Holders Get 50% Off at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

posted on March 28, 2012 in Corkscrew Swamp

The parable of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax resonates powerfully at Audubon Florida’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, where the fate of Truffula trees has a direct parallel to Corkscrew’s old growth cypress forest, rescued from extinction in 1954 in a history complete with Once-lers and Loraxes. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary offers groups of two or more 50% discounts off admission with the presentation of  The Lorax movie ticket stubs, with one ticket stub equaling one person’s discounted admission through April 22.

The Truffula trees featured in The Lorax have startling parallels to Corkscrew’s cypress trees in the length of time they take to grow and how quickly they can be destroyed. Corkscrew’s story of near extinction, nick-of-time historic rescue and ongoing survival is an example of a forest that can be saved if its community of stakeholders rally to preserve a healthy forest ecosystem for wildlife and humans. Corkscrew Sanctuary has the largest remaining stand of virgin bald cypress in North America. The Corkscrew boardwalk provides a real-life Lorax drama in a living sanctuary for wild Florida.

Click here to download our flyer.

Wood Storks – Mission Accomplished?

posted on January 12, 2012 in Birds in the News,Corkscrew Swamp,Everglades,Wildlife

In response to the recent threats to sue the US Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to downlist the endangered Wood Stork to threatened status, the Audubon Wood Stork Research Team are calling attention to stark omissions in the media’s coverage and public dialogue on this important issue.

Wood Storks are a system-wide indicator species for the multi-billion dollar Everglades Restoration effort and its nesting remains decimated there due to wetland destruction. Thus, Wood Storks have moved in big numbers to many smaller colonies in Georgia and South Carolina, which Audubon scientists agree may meet the numeric prescription for downlisting.

Wood Stork Chicks by RJ Wiley

However, nesting totals in the stork’s historic home in the Everglades tells a far more troubling story. There has been no new nesting in four of the past five years at the nation’s largest Wood Stork colony at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, located in the Western Everglades.   

This raises serious questions about whether the Wood Stork can recover as a species without longterm restoration of its historic Everglades home. This and other questions about long term sustainability of the new small northern colonies must be answered before any claim of “mission accomplished”, which has been the tone of many recent news accounts.

Stay connected as Audubon works to protect this iconic Florida species – become a friend to the Wood Stork on Facebook.

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