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:
- “Mirasol developer settles suit” - News Press
- “Agreement ends decade-long fight to preserve north Collier wetlands” - Naples News