Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Wading birds
Hydrologic Modeling Study Reveals Canal Operations are Drying the Sanctuary
In early 2020, with support from the South Florida Water Management District's Big Cypress Basin, Audubon contracted Water Science Associates (led by Roger Copp and W. Kirk Martin) to complete a hydrologic modeling study aimed at better understanding the causes of the over-drying of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

The study was completed in February. Audubon staff members presented the findings to the Big Cypress Basin Board of Directors on Feb. 25. 

The study showed that, while agricultural and public water supply withdrawals have some negative impacts on the Sanctuary, flood management structures and operations downstream are more directly responsible for water loss. 

We still need more data to model additional solutions to return the Sanctuary to 1970’s water levels. 

We will work collaboratively with the Big Cypress Basin, the South Florida Water Management District, local governments, and all Audubon’s landowning neighbors in order to solve these grave challenges for everyone’s mutual benefit. Learn more about the study.
Wading Birds. Photo by Arnie Collens.
Recent Flight Confirms Wood Stork Nesting Activity at the Sanctuary
Yes, it is true! Our March monitoring flight confirmed the presence of Wood Storks atop the Sanctuary’s bald cypress trees, including approximately 20 active nests. While this sounds promising, this is only a small fraction of the nests seen historically in this colony. The later in the winter they initiate their nests, the less chance they have of being successful.

The good news is that this species has once again returned to the Sanctuary to nest, which means they are still giving us a chance and allowing time for our restoration and conservation efforts to improve nesting conditions throughout our region.

Audubon data have shown that Wood Stork nests initiated prior to January 1 tend to be more successful than those initiated after. This is because...
Wood Stork nest site with nests. They are not visible from the Boardwalk.
Barred Owl
Blair Audubon Center Unveils NEW Ticketing Platform and Pricing Structure
During the pandemic, we completely revamped our Blair Audubon Center operations. We realized that timed ticketing was the most important step we could take to enable visitors to enjoy the Sanctuary safely.

Since re-opening in October, we have been working with our National Audubon Society network to identify and implement an online platform that could easily work with our current operations for ticket purchases and Friends of Corkscrew member reservations.

On your next visit, we hope you will agree that our new system is more user-friendly. We are also excited to announce that new discount admission prices take effect starting on March 22:
• National Audubon Society Member $14
• Members of the Military .................. $14
• Fulltime college student ................. $10
• Children age 6 to 14 .........................$ 6
• Children under 6 ........................... Free

Reservations made for visits before March 22 will continue to be made with the current system, and a new link will be available on our page within a few days. Reserve your tickets today! 

If you’ve ever wondered what people are actually seeing out there on the boardwalk, we are now keeping track of sightings on our website.
Barred Owl. Photo by Julia Memmolo.
Thank You, Crowther Roofing!
We are thankful for our corporate partners whose funds help sustain our beloved Sanctuary, provide environmental education to our community, and preserve and manage the natural resources of the precious interconnected habitats and watersheds of the Western Everglades.

This month we would like to recognize our newest corporate partner, Crowther Roofing. We are so pleased to have worked with this local business that donated the labor and materials needed to repair the roof on our administration building. This in-kind support enables us to redirect the funds we would have spent on this unexpected repair directly into land management and research programs.

Partnership levels and benefits from annual gifts range from $5,000 to $10,000. Learn more about our Corporate Partnership program.
A tree with "widowmaker."
Safety Corner: Widowmakers
With our tropical climate, trees can grow quickly and leaf-laden branches become susceptible to breakage during wind events. When one of these branches, or an entire tree-top, breaks off its trunk, it can pose an immediate danger to people or property below. The situation becomes even more dangerous when this limb gets caught in other branches and remains suspended above the ground.

Also known as a “widowmaker,” these dangling branches can remain suspended for months or years, and come down when it is least expected, seriously injuring or killing anyone below, hence the name.

This month our facilities and land management team removed some of these widowmakers that had been observed on the Blair Center grounds. It is a good idea to keep an eye out for these in your own yard, as well.
A "widowmaker" on a pine tree at the Sanctuary.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the News
Outlet: Naples Daily News
Headline: Collier commissioners agree to look into Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary water woes
Excerpt: After learning the causes of harmful changes to water levels at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Collier Commissioners agreed Tuesday to hold a public meeting regarding potential solutions at a later date. Shawn Clem, research director at the Audubon Florida’s Western Everglades Research Center at the sanctuary, and her colleague Mike Duever analyzed decades of data in the sanctuary and identified a 20-year decline in dry season water level declines. 

Outlet: Naples Florida Weekly
Headline: Audubon Study Reveals Canal Operations are Drying Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Excerpt: A study conducted by Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples recently concluded that ground water levels have dropped substantially over the past two decades primarily due to canals and weirs downstream of the Sanctuary. “Witnessing the impacts on this worldclass wetland, and especially the decline of our treasured wood stork colony, has been heartbreaking,” said Shawn Clem, PhD, who is the director of research for the Sanctuary. 

Outlet: Southern Living
Headline: The Florida Everglades Are America’s Largest Subtropical Wilderness
Excerpt: Everglades National Park is a wetlands preserve set on 1.5 million acres of South Florida wilderness. The Everglades are also home to diverse flora, including habitats of coastal mangroves, marshes, and flatwoods. Areas such as Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (one of the largest stands of old-growth cypresses on earth), Big Cypress National Preserve (alligator central), and Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park (a park on Florida's western coast that's home to panthers and black bears) ensure that no matter how many times you visit, there's always something new to find in the Everglades.

Outlet: WINK News Ft. Myers
Headline: Seeing smoke? There’s a 40-acre prescribed burn in Estero
Excerpt: A prescribed burn has been permitted for Friday by the Florida Forest Service in Lee County for a 40-acre area south of Corkscrew Road-in the same area as Thursday’s burn. the fire is the responsibility of the Florida Forest Service and the person/business conducting the burn, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

Outlet: National Geographic
Headline: How America’s most endangered cat could save Florida
Excerpt: A panther creeps through a fence at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, emerging from nearby ranchland. (subscription required)

Outlet: Travel Awaits
Headline: 8 Best Day Trips From Fort Lauderdale
Excerpt: Fort Lauderdale is sometimes called the Venice of the United States, and its waterways and pristine beaches may make you just want to hunker down with your toes in the sand, sipping a cold drink. But the city is a great base for you to venture out to experience other delights of South Florida. Here are eight of my favorite day trips, all within two hours of Fort Lauderdale. 6. Experience Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (You Won’t Egret It!). 

Outlet: Naples Daily News
Headline: Water loss at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has put wildlife at risk. New research points to the problem
Excerpt: After months of modeling efforts, researchers at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary have identified the causes of worrying changes to the ecosystem’s water levels. “I think initially I was hoping that it was something that was easier to fix,” said Shawn Clem, research director at the Audubon Florida’s Western Everglades Research Center at the sanctuary. “The fact that it looks like the biggest problem is the canals means that we’re going to have a more challenging solution.”

Outlet: WINK CBS News Ft. Myers
Headline: A major Southwest Florida wetland is drying up as people move in
Excerpt: Researchers are studying the dropping water levels over the last two decades at a major Southwest Florida wetland. Monday, a balmy March day in Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. But, this wet refuge of the swamp is drying up. Dr. Shawn Clem is the Research Director of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. “We found that our hydroperiod, or the number of days that our wetlands are holding water, has really decreased since about the mid-2000’s,” said Clem. A danger for plants, creatures and us. “Now that we’re getting overdried in the dry season, it’s putting the swamp at risk of catastrophic fire,” she said.

Outlet: Ft. Myers News-Press
Headline: Subtle signs of spring: How do we know when it's sprung in Southwest Florida?
Excerpt: It was the first week of February and maybe the last cold front of the year that prompted us to send the text message “What marks spring in Florida? What do you look for in the natural world to tell you winter is over?” We asked scientists, students, naturalists, activists, writers, and teachers from all over Southwest Florida; including the Calusa Nature Center, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, and CREW Land and Water Trust.

Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
375 Sanctuary Rd., Naples, FL 34120 USA
(239) 348-9151 |

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