Celebrating a 70 Year Legacy of Wetland Conservation at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

In 1954, brave voices in our community spoke up to save 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.

First 70 Years

Since the first 5,650 acres of land were set aside in 1954, Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has grown to more than 13,000 acres and has become a leader in Southwest Florida conservation. As the heart of the Western Everglades, the wetlands protected here recharge the aquifer, clean water, and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire while minimizing the threat of algal blooms along the nearby coastline.

Over seven decades, Audubon staff at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary have expanded and maintained an iconic, 2.25-mile boardwalk that opens the door of this enchanting forest to thousands of locals and visitors every year. The team annually engages hundreds of school students and adult learners at the Sanctuary and beyond to inspire a lifelong love and curiosity of the natural world.

Since 2018, Audubon staff have restored more than 1,000 acres of wetland meadows for wading birds, alligators, fish, amphibians, panthers, and people who benefit as the restored wetlands better hold and clean stormwater.   

Aerial view of flooded wetland
Aerial view of a restored wetland. This wetland meadow provides critical habitat to wildlife while improving water quality. Photo: Jacob Zetzer/Audubon Florida

Our team has also embarked on an innovative study to better understand water levels and their fluctuations at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Where does our water come from? Why is it draining from our swamp? What can we do to restore hydrology on our more than 13,000 acres?  

The Sanctuary was first protected 70 years ago, thanks to the voices in the community.  We still need your voices to continue to protect and conserve both Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and our watershed. The fight isn’t over for a healthy future for the Sanctuary and our surrounding communities.

Next 70 Years

We need you for the next 70 years and beyond.  

Audubon is planning a visionary transformation of the Corkscrew campus and its programs to meet the challenges of the 21st century, including the changing climate and rampant development of many remaining natural spaces in Southwest Florida. 

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.

An artist's rendering of the improved Sanctuary campus.
An artist's rendering of the improved Sanctuary campus.

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 augment 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. 

Learn more about our plans for the next 70 years.

How you can help, right now