State of the Everglades Report - A Letter from Director of Everglades Policy Kelly Cox

This year we are thrilled to celebrate 70 years of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary—a gateway to the Western Everglades. Thanks to the efforts of brave members of our community to save ancient cypress trees in 1954, Audubon continues to protect more than 13,000 acres in Southwest Florida as a wilderness refuge for some of Florida’s rarest plants and animals, with access for 100,000 visitors a year to experience them via its 2.25-mile boardwalk.

Today, the Sanctuary is not just a haven, it is an incubator for state-of-the-art restoration science that informs our policy actions. The more we learn about hydrology, habitat management, and biodiversity at Corkscrew Swamp, the more equipped we are to weigh in on novel issues and defend against emerging threats across the Greater Everglades.

To that end, we are celebrating successes. New projects are in line for congressional authorization this year, including the critically important Western Everglades Restoration Project. Historic levels of funding continue to pour in from the state and federal government to support restoration work. A new national wildlife refuge unit will connect four million acres of habitat across the Everglades footprint. Ground has been broken on vital project components like the Everglades Agricultural Area Stormwater Treatment Area. And, the ecosystem is responding.

Our iconic American Flamingos blown in from Hurricane Idalia in 2023 continue to remain in Everglades National Park thanks to available forage and quality habitat—a bright pink indicator of the success of our Everglades conservation efforts.

There’s certainly more work ahead of us in 2024, but there would be a much steeper hill to climb if it weren’t for some motivated Auduboners 70 years ago. May their legacy continue in the work we do each day to restore our River of Grass. 

This letter first appeared in the Spring State of the Everglades report. Click here to read more.

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