Originally established to protect one of the largest remaining stands of Bald Cypress and Pond Cypress in North America, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is managed by the non-profit National Audubon Society, an environmental organization dedicated to conservancy of natural resources in the United States.
Located just north of Naples, Florida and east of the town of Bonita Springs, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was established in 1954, during a period of extensive logging in the southwest Florida region. The Audubon Society attracted visitors to the area by building a small boardwalk through the swamp and allowing guests to view the region's much-coveted flora and fauna, which was being threatened by over-building.
At first, the sanctuary attracted about 10,000 visitors per year, but today, many more individuals visit this natural attraction annually. Corkscrew Swamp now includes a 2.25 mile Boardwalk that takes guests through the park's four distinct environments: marsh, cypress forest, pine upland, and wet prairie. Sanctuary staff is stationed at various places along the Boardwalk and are available to answer questions from those partaking of the self-guided tour. In addition, interpretive signs help identify various flora and other bits of nature. The entire Boardwalk tour takes about 2 hours to complete, allowing time for questions and to linger and enjoy the sights. An optional cut-off shortens the walk to one mile for those who have less time to spend here or prefer not to walk the entire distance of the Boardwalk.
Wildlife is plentiful throughout Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and flora is often breathtakingly lovely, but what guests see will depend on the time of year they visit and the weather. In the pine flatwood area, guests might expect to view woodpeckers, mockingbirds, and perhaps even a yellow rat snack or a Florida black bear. The wet prairie brings beautiful water lilies and other wild flowers as well as egrets and water snakes. Among the bald cypresses, many as old as 600 years, guests will view frogs, owls, turtles, and perhaps an alligator or two. Finally, in the marsh, sawgrass, cattails, and bulrush are common vegetation and animals on hand might include raccoons and a variety of birds.
The on-site Blair Audubon Center, where the Boardwalk tour begins, houses the Swamp Senses Media Theater, where visitors to Corkscrew can learn about the population of the sanctuary and others like it. There's also two classrooms for lectures or school field trips, a tearoom with food service counter, and the Nature Store, which offers a variety of nature-related items including books as well as souvenir-type fare such as postcards, tee shirts, jewelry, and more.
Admission fees to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary continue to support active research programs centered on environmental issues that affect Southwest Florida. The park's excellent research staff also collaborates with professors and students from nearby colleges and with staff from the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey.
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