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Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary eNewsletter
Photo collage showing floor polishing, prescribed fire, and boardwalk cleaning
Welcome Back to the Sanctuary! Reopening on Monday, Sept. 25
After a two-week closure for cleaning and renovations, we look forward to inviting visitors and members back on the boardwalk starting Monday, September 25. While closed, we refinished the wood floors throughout the Blair Visitor Center, moved our volunteer headquarters, conducted prescribed fires to reduce fuel loads in the parking lot and the wet prairie between the boardwalks, pressure-cleaned the entire length of the boardwalk, and more. We look forward to your next visit! As always, online tickets are recommended.Get tickets.
Staff and contractors worked to improve the visitor experience during our two-week closure.
A wetland with birds.
Sharing Knowledge in the Community
Last month, Senior Resource Manager Allyson Webb visited a wetland preserve at the Bonita Bay community in Bonita Springs to discuss management and restoration options. The visit was prompted by Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary volunteer and Cypress Council member Sandy Hollenhorst, a resident of Bonita Bay who was inspired by the marsh restoration effort underway at the Sanctuary.

A team of dedicated residents like Sandy regularly monitor the diverse community of birds supported by Bonita Bay’s wetlands. Sandy is working to bring this concept and knowledge to her community where wetlands face similar management challenges. Audubon is grateful for partners who are bringing our mission and our best practices home with them, improving their communities for birds, other wildlife, and people. 
Great Egret, Tricolored Heron, and Snowy Egret are among the birds foraging in this wetland at Bonita Bay community. Photo: Sandy Hollenhorst
A smiling woman wearing a headset in a helicopter.
Congratulations, Shawn Clem, New Director of Conservation
We are pleased to announce Shawn Clem, PhD, as our new director of conservation! Shawn joined the staff of Audubon Florida in 2005 at the Everglades Science Center in Tavernier, where she worked as part of a multi-agency team responsible for supporting the objectives of Everglades restoration. Most recently she served as Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s research director and took on the role of interim director of conservation this past January.
Shawn Clem, PhD, surveying a wetland by helicopter.
Photo of a man standing outdoors smiling for the camera.
Welcome to the Flock, Jeff Gage
Jeff Gage joined our staff last month as the Education Manager. He is a state-certified science teacher whose role includes overseeing, designing, and delivering innovative, environmental education programs for all age groups. Jeff strives to create meaningful and memorable experiences for program participants and visitors to foster a profound appreciation for the amazing natural environment here at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Welcome, Jeff!
Jeff Gage, education manager.
Two people bicycling on a dirt path.
NEW! Bring Your Own Bike Tour October 10
Join Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's naturalists for an off-road wilderness and eco-friendly adventure!  Whether this is your first time at Corkscrew Swamp or you’re looking for a new and exciting way to explore the sanctuary backcountry, the BYO bike tour won’t disappoint.  

Bring your own bike! We’ll meet in the parking lot and then pedal approximately eight miles over gravel and dirt paths while exploring some of the different habitats found in our 13,000+ acre preserve. Our October 10 event is the only tour offered this year, but more dates are on the schedule in 2024.
Explore the Sanctuary on a guided bike tour.
in the news graphic
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in the News
Where to See the Alluring Ghost Orchid in Florida
The rare ghost orchid grows at Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida. Brent Smith, a volunteer at Corkscrew, said the orchid is like a celebrity at the sanctuary when it blooms during the summer.

Corkscrew SIGHTINGS: Nature Gives Viewing Opportunities in Summer and Fall
In August, swallow-tailed kites, black-and-white acrobats of the sky, began gathering in large flocks in preparation for fall migration. After breeding around the southeastern U.S. over the summer, they staged in locations like Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary before completing their herculean journeys to South American wintering grounds.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a Popular Migration Station
The perilous, even herculean, long-distance marathons along what is called the Atlantic Flyway, require tremendous amounts of energy, and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is positioned in just the right place, with just the right type of tasty critters to fatten up birds on the fly.

One of the Most Resilient Trees on Earth is Dying in Droves (paywall)
(Photo caption) A Florida black bear finds a scratching post in the National Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, one of the last virgin cypress forests left in the United States.
A water lily blossom in a wetland.
Rainfall and Water Level Update
Rain gauges at the Sanctuary recorded 8.6 inches of rain in August, which is 10% lower than average. The cumulative effect of a below-normal rainy season on top of a dry winter and spring can be seen through lower-than-average water levels across the Sanctuary. Since October 2022, the cumulative amount of rainfall recorded at the Sanctuary is 27% lower than average, with our historical data going back to the early 1960s. We are hopeful for increased rainfall to refill the swamp prior to wading bird nesting and the spring wildfire season.
Fragrant water lily. Photo: Kathleen Shepard/Audubon Florida
Photo montage showing a person standing in front of the Capitol building and two men holding a framed photograph.
Standoff at the Swamp Sends Young Photographer to the U.S. Capitol
On what seemed like an ordinary April day at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, 17-year-old J. Storm Childress strolled along the boardwalk, camera in hand. While he frequently enjoys taking photographs of his natural surroundings, he had no idea that one could result in a visit to the Capitol. But that’s exactly what happened!
Left: Storm at the Capitol. Right: Storm and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Director Keith Laakkonen pose with the winning photograph.
A wetland at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
Registration is Open for Florida Master Naturalist Program Freshwater Systems
The Florida Master Naturalist Program, developed by the University of Florida and provided by participating organizations, introduces adult students to the natural history of Florida. We will provide the Freshwater Systems module at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary beginning on October 30. This training will benefit anyone interested in learning more about Florida’s environment, obtaining educational contact hours, or wishing to increase their ecological knowledge for use in education programs as volunteers, employees, ecotourism guides, and others. Register now as space is limited in this 40-hour course.
A wetland at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Photo: David Korte
Events and Other News
Promotion for Audubon Assembly with a Roseate Spoonbill
Join Us for Audubon Assembly!
Audubon Assembly will be held in person October 26-28 at the Sheraton Tampa Brandon Hotel. This year's theme is Conservation in a Changing Landscape. With learning sessions, a keynote presentation about conservation photography, awards, and field trips to some of the birdiest hotspots in the region, Assembly is a great opportunity to network with Audubon members, staff, and volunteers across the state. We will be there with merchandise from the Corkscrew Nature Store. Learn more and register for the 2023 Audubon Assembly.
Audubon Assembly takes place October 26-28, 2023
A yellow and black butterfly nectaring on a white flower.
Upcoming Events
Check out these upcoming tours and events!

Sunset Stroll | Sept. 25
Early Birding Tour | Sept. 26
Ancient Forest Tour | Sept. 28
Wedding Venue Open House | Oct. 5
Guided Forest Meditation | Oct. 6
BYO Bike Tour | Oct. 10
Sunset Stroll | Oct. 11
Corkscrew Night Tour | Oct. 16
Early Birding Tour | Oct. 17
Ancient Forest Tour | Oct. 19
Pine Flatwoods Tour | Oct. 20
Early Birding Tour | Oct. 24
Family Night Tour | Oct. 25
Freshwater Wetlands Module | Oct. 30 – Nov. 30
Early Birding Tour | Oct. 31
  View our Calendar of Events.
Eastern tiger swallowtail on buttonbush. Photo: Donald Sawin
Blair Visitor Center
We're Hiring!
We're currently hiring several part-time and full-time positions at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Working with Audubon means making a difference for birds and the places they need today and tomorrow.  Open positions include Membership Sales Assistant, Visitor Center Assistant, Cafe Cook and Attendant, and Outdoor Educator. Learn more and submit your application.
Blair Visitor Center. Photo: David Korte
A bride and groom on the boardwalk
Wedding Venue Open House Oct. 5
Celebrate your special day surrounded by the majesty of nature at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Join us for a tour of our three venues, including the wet prairie, outdoor amphitheater, and patio—each one a perfect backdrop for the big day. Enjoy light bites in our lobby as you visit with local wedding vendors who can help with all the small details. We’re even offering a 50% discount on any bookings received in September or October!  Email us about your interest in our wedding venue.
Bride and groom on the boardwalk. Photo: Love Letters Co.
Donations and memberships provide crucial support for conservation work at the Sanctuary. The Blair Audubon Center and boardwalk are open daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.,  with the last admission at 1 p.m. Online tickets are recommended at
Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
375 Sanctuary Rd., Naples, FL 34120 USA
(239) 348-9151 |

© 2024 National Audubon Society, Inc.