The Corkscrew conservation team is constantly researching new tools for our land stewardship toolbox to ensure responsible, long-term care of our land. In late July, staff visited restoration sites within the St. John’s River Water Management District to continue a collaborative discussion of ways to improve our management of Carolina willow.
Carolina willow is a native woody shrub that has become a nuisance in wetland locations where freshwater flows have been reduced by changes in land use. Like what we’ve seen in the Sanctuary, dense stands of mature willow in the St. John’s River area are reducing wildlife habitat and making prescribed fire a challenge. Our team has been working closely with the District since early on in the effort to restore our marsh and prairie habitat.
Sanctuary director Keith Laakkonen, research director Shawn Clem, PhD, and senior land Manager Allyson Webb, along with ecologists Jean McCollom and Mike Duever, PhD (Sustainability Board Member), visited sites in the Upper St. John’s River Basin.
Over the past twenty years District staff have incorporated a variety of methods to remove willow and re-establish grass-dominated marsh habitat.
Staff visited sites by truck, airboat, and helicopter and were impressed by the progress they saw. They discussed the specifics of new methods that Audubon is planning to pilot in the Sanctuary in the coming years.