Chapters & Centers

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Gears Up for 70th Anniversary Celebration with Vision for the Future

Since the first land purchase in 1954, Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has become a leader in Southwest Florida conservation.

Audubon’s first involvement with Corkscrew Swamp began in the early 1900s, fielding wardens to protect nesting birds from poachers seeking their highly prized plumage. By the 1950s, however, a new threat had emerged—the old-growth, bald cypress forest faced imminent clear-cutting. Seventy years ago, brave voices in our community spoke up to protect ancient trees from the threat of the axe and saw. Thanks to their efforts, today we protect 13,000-plus acres in Southwest Florida as a haven for plants, animals, and people.

Since the first land purchase in 1954, Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has become a leader in Southwest Florida conservation. The wetlands protected within the Sanctuary recharge the aquifer, clean storm water, and reduce risk of catastrophic wildfire while reducing algal blooms along the coastline.

From 1954 to today, Audubon staff at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary have built and continue to maintain an iconic 2.25-mile boardwalk that opens the door of this enchanting forest to thousands of locals and visitors. We bring more than 5,000 students to the Sanctuary every year to inspire a lifelong love and curiosity of the natural world. We are restoring more than 1,000 acres of wetland meadows for wading birds, alligators, fish, amphibians, panthers, and more, as well as for our neighbors, as the restored areas hold and clean water while reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire. 

But we need you for the next 70.

We are planning a visionary transformation of both our campus and our programs to meet challenges of the 21st century, including changing climate and increasing development. 

In fact, the work we do here at the Sanctuary not only improves the lives of our inland neighbors, but our coastal communities too. By pioneering restoration techniques to clean and hold more water on the landscape, we improve drinking water levels and reduce the scourge of algal blooms along our beaches and islands. 

Built and operated for many years with the generosity of volunteers and grassroots donors, we must now strengthen our foundation. Audubon is making strategic investments in the Sanctuary’s campus infrastructure that will improve our ability to deliver transformational programming, conduct the science needed to preserve our 13,000-plus acres, improve our ability to educate students and lifelong learners, and enhance the boardwalk experience that inspires every visitor to become a champion for this cherished place. 

Click here to be part of the next 70 years at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, the heart of the Western Everglades. 

This article first appeared in the Winter edition of the Naturalist magazine.

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