Docstoc

State of Sanibel Captiva Audubons Birds

Document Sample
State of Sanibel Captiva Audubons Birds Powered By Docstoc
					                                                Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                                        State of the Birds
                                                         December 2006



Sanibel Captiva Audubon Society
Conservation Report
December 14, 2006

Contents

Summary of Species of concern found on Sanibel ............................................................. 2
  American Oystercatcher.................................................................................................. 2
  Mottled Duck .................................................................................................................. 2
  Piping Plover................................................................................................................... 2
  Reddish Egret .................................................................................................................. 3
  Short Billed Dowitcher ................................................................................................... 3
  Snowy Plover .................................................................................................................. 4
  Whimbrel ........................................................................................................................ 4
  Wilson’s Plover............................................................................................................... 4
North American bird species undergoing the greatest population declines from 1966 to
2003..................................................................................................................................... 5
Resources ............................................................................................................................ 6
Florida’s Important Bird Areas ........................................................................................... 6
  Public Agencies and Private Orgs that own or monitor lands within SW Fl’s ............... 6
     FEDERAL PROPERTIES .......................................................................................... 6
     STATE PROPERTIES................................................................................................ 6
Sanctuaries - Audubon of Florida ....................................................................................... 7
  Lake Okeechobee Science .............................................................................................. 7
  Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries ................................................................................ 8
  Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary ......................................................................................... 8
Audubon of Florida’s Conservation Agenda for 2007 ..................................................... 11
  Five Major Statewide Strategies ................................................................................... 11
     Land Conservation and Public Land Management ................................................... 11
     Water for the Environment ....................................................................................... 11
     Growth Management and Transportation ................................................................. 12
     Wildlife and Protected Species ................................................................................. 12
     Global Warming........................................................................................................ 12
  Audubon’s Regional Approach to Conservation .......................................................... 12
     Everglades and Lake Okeechobee ............................................................................ 12
     Big Cypress Regional Ecosystems............................................................................ 13
     Central Florida Ecosystems ...................................................................................... 13
     Gulf Coast Ecosystems ............................................................................................. 13
     Northwest Coastal Habitats....................................................................................... 13
     Northeast Coastal Habitats ........................................................................................ 13




                                                                                                                                         1
                                      Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                              State of the Birds
                                               December 2006



      Summary of Species of concern found on Sanibel
The following species list was developed from Audubon’s Watchlist dated 2002-2006. These species are
found in our area and would be conservation priorities, in addition to other species commonly found here.


American Oystercatcher
American Oystercatcher can be found breeding in the U.S. along the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts
south to Georgia, and in selected localities along the Gulf Coast in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas.
IBAs include North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore IBA which supports 30 nesting pairs;
Georgia's Altamaha River Delta IBA, which supports up to 250 oystercatchers during migration/winter;
Florida's Big Bend Ecosystem IBA, within which 400-600 wintering birds can be found at Cedar Keys
National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and perhaps hundreds more at Lower Suwanee NWR (585 birds were
seen here in November 2000); and Florida's Hillsborough Bay IBA, which hosts an average of 66 breeding
pairs of American Oystercatcher. Over the past 20 years, the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain population, 75%
of which is found on the Virginia Barrier Islands, has declined by more than 40%. Over the past 20 years,
the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain population, 75% of which is found on the Virginia Barrier Islands, has
declined by more than 40%. over the past 20 years, the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain population, 75% of
which is found on the Virginia Barrier Islands, has declined by more than 40%.


Mottled Duck
Mottled Duck, like its close relative the American Black Duck, has been negatively impacted by the loss of
wetlands and hybridization with introduced populations of Mallard. Worldwide, this duck is only found in
fresh and brackish wetlands of the Gulf Coast from northeastern Mexico around to peninsular Florida.
Loss of wetland habitats have hurt the species. Conservation efforts are difficult in areas such as Florida
where 3,700,000 hectares of wetlands have been filled or otherwise destroyed by citrus farming and other
human uses. Addressing this problem in management problems will be crucial as habitat restoration and
establishment of preserves are the most important aspect of conservation of Mottled Ducks. Recently
Florida passed new regulations to prohibit the release of feral Mallards on hunting preserves in order to
slow the hybridization between Mottled Ducks and Mallards. Possibility of helping to monitor wintering
populations.


Piping Plover
A resident of sandflats and shorelines east of the Rocky Mountains, the population of Piping Plovers has
declined dramatically due to human actions. Development and recreational activities along shorelines are
the primary causes of these declines. All three populations thought to winter on the Gulf of Mexico, along
the Atlantic Coast in the southern U.S. and in the Caribbean. Further information on wintering sites needs
to be gathered.

Piping Plovers first declined due to hunting in the 19th Century. Populations recovered after the enactment
of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Since the end of World War II, however, development and
increased recreational use of coastal zones and shorelines led to a second decline for the species. In 1986,
the Piping Plover was listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the U.S. In response
to intensive conservation efforts following its protection under the ESA, Piping Plover populations have
stabilized or begun to grow in some regions. The Atlantic Piping Plover population, for example, has
increased in many States in response to careful management. In 2005, BirdLife estimated the Piping Plover
population at 6,410. The greatest threat to Piping Plovers is continued alteration of breeding and wintering
habitat. Human activities along coastlines are the most common threat. These include:

-- Habitat loss due to coastal development;
-- Nest destruction and disturbance due to recreational vehicles, pets and people; and


                                                                                                            2
                                     Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                             State of the Birds
                                              December 2006
-- Water management in river systems that can lead to flooding at nesting sites and can reduce the number
of exposed sandbars and other breeding habitat.

More information is required to assess potential threats at wintering sites. Posting signs, eliminating
predators, monitoring species counts.


Reddish Egret
While populations have been recovering during the past century, this species is now threatened by the
degradation and destruction of its preferred coastal habitat. In the United States, Reddish Egrets are year-
round residents of the Gulf Coast of Texas and both coasts of southern Florida. This species also breeds
along the coast of Louisiana. In Florida, Audubon's Hillsborough Bay Important Bird Area provides nesting
habitat for 45 to 50 pairs of breeding Reddish Egrets. There are no Breeding Bird Survey data available for
Reddish Egrets. Reddish Egrets are more closely tied to salt water habitats than any other species of heron
or egret in North America. They are found primarily in coastal tidal flats, salt marshes, and lagoons. These
egrets feed largely on small fish, such as mullet, which they catch in the calm, protected waters of coastal
bays and estuaries. Reddish Egrets are more closely tied to salt water habitats than any other species of
heron or egret in North America. They are found primarily in coastal tidal flats, salt marshes, and lagoons.
These egrets feed largely on small fish, such as mullet, which they catch in the calm, protected waters of
coastal bays and estuaries. While the species is not critically endangered or endangered, it faces a high risk
of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future. Audubon Sanctuaries in Florida and Texas protect
important colonies of wading birds including Reddish Egrets. More than 50,000 nesting wading birds are
protected on the 28 island sanctuaries managed by Audubon of Florida.


Short Billed Dowitcher
The breeders in central Canada winter from Florida westward along the Gulf Coast, and along both coasts
of Central America south to Panama. Eastern Canadian breeders winter along the Atlantic Coast from
North Carolina to Florida, throughout the Caribbean, and along the northern South American coast as far
south as Brazil. The breeders in central Canada winter from Florida westward along the Gulf Coast, and
along both coasts of Central America south to Panama. Eastern Canadian breeders winter along the Atlantic
Coast from North Carolina to Florida, throughout the Caribbean, and along the northern South American
coast as far south as Brazil. Short-billed Dowitcher prefers protected coastal tidal flats on migration and on
its wintering grounds, where it feeds on insects, mollusks, marine worms, and crustaceans. The species
breeds mostly on open bogs, marshes, and lake edges in the vast coniferous forest of Canada and Alaska.
The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan lists Short-billed Dowitcher as a "Species of High Concern," based
on population trends and threats on the non-breeding grounds. The eastern breeding population has shown a
significant population decline, while central Canadian breeders are also apparently declining. Loss of
wetland habitats used by the species as migratory stop-over locations continues to be a threat across much
of the U.S. In some locations, the use of potentially lethal pesticides during the migration period is a threat.
For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted an emergency request for the use of the
pesticide carbofuran in Louisiana rice fields in July 2002. Louisiana rice fields are known to sometimes
host concentrations of migratory adult Short-billed Dowitchers beginning in July as they return from the
Canadian breeding grounds.

The flooding of James Bay lowlands that has resulted from hydroelectric projects may have depleted
habitat for Short-billed Dowitcher. In Venezuela, the development of coastal lagoons that are used as
stopping and staging areas may be cause for concern. The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan lists Short-
billed Dowitcher as a "Species of High Concern," based on population trends and threats on the non-
breeding grounds. The eastern breeding population has shown a significant population decline, while
central Canadian breeders are also apparently declining. Loss of wetland habitats used by the species as
migratory stop-over locations continues to be a threat across much of the U.S. In some locations, the use of
potentially lethal pesticides during the migration period is a threat. For example, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency granted an emergency request for the use of the pesticide carbofuran in Louisiana rice
fields in July 2002. Louisiana rice fields are known to sometimes host concentrations of migratory adult



                                                                                                              3
                                     Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                             State of the Birds
                                              December 2006
Short-billed Dowitchers beginning in July as they return from the Canadian breeding grounds.

The flooding of James Bay lowlands that has resulted from hydroelectric projects may have depleted
habitat for Short-billed Dowitcher. In Venezuela, the development of coastal lagoons that are used as
stopping and staging areas may be cause for concern.


Snowy Plover
At least five separate races of Snowy Plovers can be found throughout the world. The race found in North
America has a relatively small population size that has declined over much of its range. Like many other
shorebird species on the Audubon WatchList, the Snowy Plover has suffered from habitat destruction and
other land use changes in coastal areas, dry lakebeds and other wetland areas. Studies have found declines
in Snowy Plover populations along the U.S. Gulf Coast, in the Great Plains and along the westernmost part
of its U.S. range where there was an estimated 20% decline in breeding birds from the late 1970's to the late
1980's. A shorebird species, the Snowy Plover is often seen feeding along the beach. This species can also
be found near water in other areas including salt flats, dunes, river sandbars, alkaline lakes, and agricultural
ponds. Their primary food items include terrestrial and marine/aquatic invertebrates such as small crabs,
polychaete worms, amphipods, flies, beetles and others. Chicks and eggs are preyed on by gulls, egrets,
crows, Common Ravens and even Loggerhead Shrikes in certain areas. The greatest threat to Snowy
Plovers is habitat alteration. Increased development and recreational use along coastal beaches has
probably led to decreases in breeding populations along the Gulf Coast and Pacific Coast. These changes
include construction projects along the coast, as well as more subtle changes such as beach raking and
increased recreational use of these areas, such as horseback riding, camping, and off-road vehicle use.
These activities can lead to loss of suitable nesting habitat, loss of eggs from trampling, or simple
disturbance of Snowy Plovers incubating eggs at their nest. Conservation efforts include These include
protection of breeding sites by roping them off, posting signs, and even installing protective fencing,
removal of predators, and by either closing nesting beaches, or limiting pets and vehicle use on them. A
limited captive breeding program has also been explored in California.


Whimbrel
The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan lists Whimbrel as a "Species of High Concern," siting threats on
non-breeding grounds. Need to pinpoint what sites are important and how birds are using them. Cadmium
may also be a threat.


Wilson’s Plover
Wilson's Plover is found along the sandy beaches and tidal mudflats of the Gulf Coast and southern
Atlantic Coast. During the breeding season, Wilson's Plover can be found in the U.S. along the Atlantic
Coast from Maryland to Florida, and along the Gulf Coast from Florida to south Texas. The species can
also be found wintering along both coasts of Florida and along the coast of south Texas. Wilson's Plover is
also a permanent resident south through Central America and the Caribbean to northern South America. A
number of Audubon Important Bird Areas (IBAs) help protect critical habitat for this plover, including
Florida's Big Marco Pass Shoal IBA, which hosts an average of 15 Wilson's Plover nests per year. The U.
S. Shorebird Conservation Plan lists Wilson's Plover's population status as "stable or status unknown"
because no comprehensive surveys to monitor the species trends have been implemented. However, most
beach-nesting bird species are under great threat from habitat loss and increased human recreational use of
beaches. Wilson's Plover is strictly a coastal species, usually found on open sand or shell beaches, or tidal
mudflats. It eats mostly crustaceans, such as fiddler crabs, crayfish, and shrimp, but it also feeds upon
mollusks, marine worms, and insects. Nesting occurs either in isolated pairs or in colony-type situations.
Wilson's Plover is strictly a coastal species, usually found on open sand or shell beaches, or tidal mudflats.
It eats mostly crustaceans, such as fiddler crabs, crayfish, and shrimp, but it also feeds upon mollusks,
marine worms, and insects. Nesting occurs either in isolated pairs or in colony-type situations. Partners in
Flight's Bird Conservation Plan for The South Atlantic Coastal Plain lists Wilson's Plover as a priority
shorebird species for that physiographic area. The Plan calls for the controlling of recreation and predation



                                                                                                              4
                                      Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                              State of the Birds
                                               December 2006
pressures along coastal beaches and dunes between April and October, in order to protect nesting birds,
such as Wilson's Plover, as well as migratory shorebirds. The Plan also recommends that all available
beach and dune habitat in the South Atlantic Coastal Plan area be protected, either by government agencies,
or through private-public partnerships.

Audubon sanctuaries protect Wilson's Plover habitat in several states including Florida, North Carolina, and
Texas. All three states have active Audubon coastal waterbird conservation programs that carry-out
monitoring, fencing, education, and warden patrolling in an effort to increase nesting success and survival
of Wilson's Plovers.

Notes:
    1. Report lists participation in the Christmas Bird Count as the #1 thing you can do to help protect
       species. “Volunteers are crucial to the success of programs that monitor the long-term status of
       wintering populations of Wilson's Plover and other bird species. Audubon's Christmas Bird Count
       (CBC) is one of the longest-running citizen-science monitoring programs in the world and has
       helped to follow changes in the numbers and distribution of Wilson's Plover.”
    2. Monitoring populations is crucial.
    3. International information omitted from above summary.

North American bird species undergoing the greatest
population declines from 1966 to 2003
These population declines are measured by the Breeding Bird Survey, a survey that is done by volunteers across
North America and is coordinated and analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey at the Patuxent Wildlife Research
Center. Declines are shown as percentage population loss from 1966 to 2003. The list includes all species
encountered on 20 or more BBS routes and with population losses of more than two-thirds between 1966 and
2003 (averaging –3.0% per year or greater).


Population size estimates are from North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Partners in Flight, U.S.
Shorebird Conservation Plan, Waterbirds for the Americas, and Wetlands International.



Species with large sample sizes (more than 95 routes included in the analysis):
.
                                    Population loss 1966-2003             2003 population estimate
1    Rusty Blackbird                -97.9%                                                           2,000,000
2    Henslow's Sparrow              -96.4%                                                              79,000
3    Common Tern                    -90.6%                                                           1,400,000
4    Verdin                         -85.6%                                                           8,900,000
5    Sprague's Pipit                -83.8%                                                             870,000
6    Pinyon Jay                     -82.5%                                                           4,100,000
7    Short-eared Owl                -80.3%                                                           2,400,000
8    Cerulean Warbler               -79.6%                                                             560,000
9    Black-throated Sparrow         -79.6%                                                          27,000,000
10   Loggerhead Shrike              -77.1%                                                           4,200,000
11   Grasshopper Sparrow            -77.1%                                                          15,000,000
12   Olive-sided Flycatcher         -73.2%                                                           1,200,000
13   Baird's Sparrow                -73.2%                                                           1,200,000
14   Canyon Wren                    -70.0%                                                             660,000
15   Field Sparrow                  -68.8%                                                           8,200,000
16   Northern Bobwhite              -67.6%                                                           9,200,000
.
Species with small sample sizes (fewer than 96 but more than 19 routes included in the analysis):
.
                                    Population loss 1966-2003             2003 population estimate
1     Lesser Yellowlegs             -97.3%                                                              500,000
2     King Rail                     -94.8%                                                               63,000
3     Black Swift                   -93.9%                                                              150,000
4     Harris' Hawk                  -88.1%                                                              390,000
5     Bendire's Thrasher            -86.1%                                                              170,000
6     Mottled Duck                  -86.1%                                                              690,000



                                                                                                             5
                                      Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                              State of the Birds
                                               December 2006
7     Black-chinned Sparrow         -85.6%                                                           390,000
8     Greater Prairie-Chicken       -78.8%                                                           690,000
9     Purple Gallinule              -77.9%                                                         < 500,000
10    Horned Grebe                  -70.0%                                                         < 500,000


Resources
Shorebird Nest Monitoring Programs
Designation of Important Bird Areas
Public Private Lands
Audubon Sanctuaries


Florida’s Important Bird Areas
Audubon's Important Bird Areas (IBA) program is a response to continuing habitat loss in Florida, and its
subsequent reduction of the state's birdlife. The IBA program will assist decision makers in identifying
areas most important for maintaining bird populations by protecting the habitats of rare species, as well as
"keeping common birds common." In addition, the IBA program provides essential information for state
land management agencies to properly manage habitats for birds, including the use of prescribed fire and
limiting human intrusion during the nesting season.

Through the end of 2001, Audubon of Florida sought nominations of sites as potential IBAs from Audubon
members, land managers and other biologists, birders, and individuals throughout the state. All sites
nominated have met the criteria of at least one of four categories and has been reviewed by a committee
composed of some of the state's leading ornithologists and conservation biologists.

Public Agencies and Private Orgs that own or monitor lands within SW Fl’s

FEDERAL PROPERTIES
National Estuarine Research Reserve: Rookery Bay
National Seashores: Canaveral, and Gulf Islands
National Parks: Biscayne, Dry Tortugas, and Everglades
National Preserve: Big Cypress
National Wildlife Refuges: Florida Panther, J.N. "Ding" Darling, Key West, Pine Island,

STATE PROPERTIES
South Florida Water Management District properties: Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed,
Corkscrew Regional Mitigation Bank,
Southwest Florida Water Management District properties: Annutteliga Hammock, Bright Hour Watershed,
Chassahowitzka River and Coastal Swamps, Cypress Creek Flood Detention Area, Flying Eagle Ranch,
Green Swamp Wilderness, Gum Slough, Halpata Tastanaki Preserve, Jack Creek, Lake Panasoffkee,
Myakka River, Panasoffkee/Outlet Tract, Potts Preserve, Starkey Wilderness Park, and Weekiwachee
Preserve
State Forests: Picayune Strand, Ross Prairie, Seminole, Tate’s Hell, and Withlacoochee
State Parks: Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, Paynes Prairie Preserve,




                                                                                                               6
                                         Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                                 State of the Birds
                                                  December 2006

Wildlife Management Areas: Everglades and Francis S. Taylor, Fisheating Creek, Fred C. Babcock–Cecil
M. Webb,
COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL
Lee County: Stairstep Mitigation Bank
PRIVATE CONSERVATION ORGANIZATIONS
Archbold Expeditions, Inc.: Archbold Biological Station
Audubon of Florida: Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries, Lake Okeechobee
Sanctuaries




Sanctuaries - Audubon of Florida
Conserving habitat is fundamental to conserving birds. To that end, Audubon of Florida owns over 70 properties
in 27 Florida counties, protecting a diversity of habitats with varying degrees of accessibility.


Our sanctuaries include our nature centers which open their boardwalks, trails and educational programs to the
public. Others are less suited to public access. Urban oases like the Mary Krome Sanctuary near Homestead and
the Colclough Pond Sanctuary in downtown Gainesville provide important habitat for native wildlife. Larger tracts
include the Big Econlockhatchee River parcel in Orange County and the 400-acre Laidlaw Sanctuary in
Washington County.


Florida‟s natural areas are threatened like never before. Creating a land sanctuary is a gift to the future of
Florida.


Some of our cornerstone Audubon of Florida sanctuaries, made possible through the generosity of our donors,
include:


        Corkscrew Swamp
        Kissimmee Prairie/Lake Okeechobee
        Tampa Bay Coastal Islands


              To inquire about our sanctuaries, offer a land gift or donate funds toward the
               management of these lands, please contact Charles Lee at 407/644-0190.


Lake Okeechobee Science
Lake Okeechobee is the historical gatekeeper between the watershed from the north and the Everglades to its
south. Before American settlers altered South Florida‟s drainage in the early 20th century, rain that fell between
Orlando and the lake would drain slowly through the Kissimmee Basin to Okeechobee, where it would be held. At
times of high water, the lake would overflow its southern boundary, replenishing the Everglades with freshwater.
At times of low water, the flow would stop, allowing the „glades to dry seasonally.


The system no longer functions in this way. Water is artificially shunted in different directions at unnatural times
of year, and the quality of that water is far poorer. In recent years, Lake Okeechobee has suffered from
hurricane-deepened water levels and intense water quality problems, and has been forced to discharge harmful
pulses of freshwater to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. The symptoms are clear-- water management
in South Florida isn't working for the lake-- but the causes of and solutions to these problems are complex at
best.


                           The fate of the Everglades is tied to that of Lake Okeechobee.


Here‟s how Audubon is working to restore this “liquid heart of the Everglades”:


Land Preservation
Audubon‟s Okeechobee Sanctuaries protect some of the most critical components of this wild landscape, including
portions of the lake-proper, as well as the Ordway-Whittell Preserve, containing some of the state‟s last
remaining examples of native dry prairie.




                                                                                                                  7
                                         Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                                 State of the Birds
                                                  December 2006
Applied Science
Our science staff is actively engaged in the ever-changing landscape of Lake Okeechobee restoration science.
This on-the-ground experience allows us to make science-based recommendations such as Audubon‟s Plan for
Lake Okeechobee Recovery.


Influencing Policy
Restoration of this system includes many competing interests and complex science. Audubon takes an active role
in the planning and implementation of Lake restoration, and seeks to communicate crucial, timely information to
the public and decision makers in products like the Lake Okeechobee State of the Lake Report.


Okeechobee Science Office
Paul Gray, Ph.D.
100 Riverwoods Circle
Lorida, FL 33857
863-467-8497
863-467-8460 FAX


Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries
410 Ware Boulevard, #702
Tampa, FL 33619
813/623-6826
fax: 813/623-4086


The mission of the Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries is the protection of the great colonial waterbird populations
of the Florida coast, and the natural systems that support them.


The first Audubon Sanctuary in Tampa Bay was established in 1934 to stop the shooting and harvest of nesting
herons and ibis at Green Key in Hillsborough Bay. As human population growth and development in the Tampa
Bay area have expanded, the wildlife conservation concerns of the Sanctuaries staff have also broadened from
the more direct goal of the protection of nesting colonies themselves, to reflect an ecosystem approach. Today,
the scope and area of the Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries' activities are still increasing to meet the
conservation needs of the state's colonial waterbirds.


Colonial waterbirds are birds that nest in groups or colonies, typically on coastal islands. In all, 23 species nest in
colonies, with another six species which often nest in or near bird colonies but are not colonial themselves.
Twelve of these 29 species are listed by the Wildlife Commission as "endangered", "threatened", or "species of
special concern". Three species are targeted by Partners in Flight as WatchList species, in need of conservation.


The Tampa Bay area is home to a population of colonial waterbirds totaling up to 50,000 breeding pairs at nearly
30 sites. Up to half breed in Hillsborough Bay. Some of the rarer species have currently stable or increasing
populations locally (Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, American Oystercatcher), but more common species
including those that rely on freshwater foraging areas are declining (Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored
Heron, White Ibis, possibly others).


Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, located in Collier and Lee Counties of southwest Florida, is a 13,000 acre
wildlife sanctuary established in 1954. The sanctuary contains representatives of south Florida's major
upland and freshwater wetland ecosystems that have not been noticeably affected by pronounced human
disturbances. Relatively stable communities have evolved here in response to natural regimes of fire, water,
soil, and climate. Natural resource management is a priority at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The resource
management program focuses on five principle components: hydrology, invasive species, fire, wildlife, and
human access. Moreover, our management efforts are directed by data gathered from sound scientific
research.

HYDROLOGY




                                                                                                                      8
                                       Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                                State of the Birds
                                                 December 2006
      Water is the life blood of south Florida. Water levels are strategically monitored throughout
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary using staff gauges and either analog or digital rainfall gauges. Hydrologic
data are entered into a computer database where they can be statistically analyzed. Such data can be used to
track water level fluctuations as a function of precipitation over time, and to document fluctuations &
deviations from historical hydropatterns.

INVASIVE SPECIES

       It is important that Corkscrew Swamp remain in its natural state, the way Florida looked for hundreds
of years. Therefore, removal of nonindigenous plant and animal species is a constant concern. Special
emphasis is placed on the eradication of invasive exotic species. Among plants, problem species
include: Australian Melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia), Old-World Climbing Fern (Lygodium
microphyllum), Brazilian Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), and Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes).
Also troublesome to a lesser degree are Primrose Willow (Ludwigia peruviana), Phragmites (Phragmites
australis), Air Potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) and Java Plum (Syzygium cumini). While some of these
species can be eradicated by mowing or pulling out of the ground, most cannot be killed without the use of
herbicides. In fact, some species like Melaleuca will set seed or sprout new trees if burned, cut, or
otherwise disturbed. Herbicide use is an acceptable and necessary means of invasive plant control. The
most common herbicides in use at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary are Glyphosate (e.g. Round-Up,
Aquaneat, etc.) and Triclopyr (e.g. Garlon). These herbicides are very safe when used in accordance with
the manufacturer's safety guidelines. Application techniques employed at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
limit exposure as well as damage to non-target plants. In addition to the commercial herbicides, great
success has been achieved using alternative, "organic" herbicides such as vinegar (acetic acid).

      Some exotic animal species also pose a threat to native wildlife. Wild hogs (Sus scrofa) are an
occasional problem at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Hogs' rooting behavior causes serious damage to the
land and contributes to the establishment & spread of invasive plants. Problem animals are trapped and
destroyed. Other nuisance wildlife includes domestic cats, fire ants, and Cuban treefrogs.

FIRE

       In addition to water, fire is a dominant environmental force that structures and maintains ecosystems
throughout south Florida. In fact, some ecosystems depend upon fire for their survival. Periodic burning
allows the proliferation of fire-evolved plant species and reduces or eliminates competing species. Also,
people have long realized that fire can benefit wildlife in many ways such as increasing food abundance or
opening habitat. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary has used prescribed fire as an integral part of its land
management program. The benefits of prescribed fire include reducing accumulated fuels that contribute to
devastating wildfires, increasing scenic vistas, and controlling disease. Burning at Corkscrew Swamp
typically occurs between November and May, and is conducted under the supervision of a certified
prescribed burn manager. The sanctuary maintains a fire cache of protective gear, hand tools, a wildland
fire engine, and a water tanker.

WILDLIFE

      Numerous wildlife species inhabit Corkscrew Swamp. It is believed that if the land is properly
managed, all else including wildlife will take care of itself. Therefore, wildlife monitoring does not
constitute a significant proportion of the sanctuary's management program. However, staff and volunteers
maintain an active database of daily wildlife sightings around the boardwalk, conduct monthly bird and
yearly butterfly censuses, and are a part of the amphibian monitoring network. Additionally, the
sanctuary has a keen interest in those species listed as threatened or endangered. Listed species that inhabit
Corkscrew Swamp include the Florida Panther (Felix concolor), Black Bear (Ursus americanus), and
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). Wood Storks are a federally endangered species and Corkscrew
Swamp typically serves as the largest nesting colony in south Florida. During the nesting season, stork
colonies are censused from aircraft on a biweekly basis. More active research has been initiated and efforts



                                                                                                             9
                                        Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                                State of the Birds
                                                 December 2006
are underway to track storks with satellite transmitters, learn more about foraging behavior, and identify
critical wetland habitats that these birds depend on for survival. Proper land management and maintenance
of hydrologic conditions will help ensure the preservation of these imperiled species.

HUMAN ACCESS

       The sanctuary annually attracts over 100,000 visitors but most are restricted to the boardwalk trail;
backcountry areas are off limits to the general public. Except for staff, the only persons allowed
backcountry access are visiting scientists, special guests, Florida Wildlife Commission officers, and
cooperating conservation agencies. The entire sanctuary boundary is fenced and posted with signs; it is also
patrolled on a routine basis. Trespass law is strictly enforced and all offenders are prosecuted to the
severest extent of the law.

SCIENCE RESEARCH

       Sometimes we do not fully understand a natural resource problem or do not know the best way to
resolve a particular issue. In those cases, support is sought from the academic world and other agencies and
organizations to conduct research targeted on those issues. Furthermore, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is an
ideal location for research to be conducted because natural conditions are pristine and land use is not
changing rapidly. Scientists approach the sanctuary each year with interest in conducting research, thus
Audubon of Florida supports an active research program.




                                                                                                         10
                                        Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                                State of the Birds
                                                 December 2006
Audubon of Florida’s Conservation Agenda for 2007
When the Audubon family gathered in Cocoa Beach in October for the annual Audubon Assembly, a new
conservation agenda was established for 2007.


Deploying professional staff and expertise and using sound science, Audubon of Florida will call on the volunteer
leadership of local chapters, members and grassroots networks, and work with conservation allies, business and
community leaders and public officials to carry out the agenda.


Our focus is on state policy strategies and regional conservation goals.


Five Major Statewide Strategies
Audubon of Florida‟s conservation agenda focuses on five statewide strategies:


Land Conservation
Water Resource Protection
Growth Management and Transportation
Wildlife Policy
Global Warming


The following are summaries of Audubon‟s 2007 five major statewide strategies. For the full text of these
resolutions, please download the PDF version here.


Land Conservation and Public Land Management
Audubon calls on the new Governor and legislative leaders to dramatically increase the state‟s commitment to
buying land for wildlife habitat, water resource protection and for restoring the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee.
Success will be measured by an annual commitment of up to $1 billion for land conservation programs.


Land conservation is losing the race with development. Parts of key ecosystems are being converted to urban
areas faster than land can be protected. Public land management budgets are not keeping pace with the
challenges of using prescribed fire, controlling invasive exotics species and managing human use. Audubon is
working with allies to accelerate acquisition programs and increase funding for public land management. Goals:


        Florida Forever – Spend the remaining Florida Forever funds in 2007, preparing the way for a
         replacement program that spends $600 million a year.
        Everglades Restoration and Lake Okeechobee Recovery – Complete land acquisition for restoration
         projects by 2010.
        Conservation through Land Use – Encourage programs such as Rural Land Stewardship that use
         increased development density to pay for land conservation.
        Local and Regional Public Land Initiatives – Support land conservation at the local and regional level.


Water for the Environment
Water is a public resource and should be clean and safe and managed for the benefit of natural systems. Florida‟s
freshwater and estuarine systems have been heavily damaged by drainage, pollution, overuse and
mismanagement. Human water use must be balanced with environmental needs. Goals:


        Reserve Water to Preserve Nature – Uphold state policies and actions must allocate water to protect fish
         and wildlife and for the health of springs, rivers, lakes and estuaries before human uses are permitted.
        Protect wetlands, floodplains and aquifers - Maintain, improve and restore nature‟s storage capacity in
         order to reduce withdrawals and diversions from natural waterways.
        Pollution - Reduce human sources of pollution and clean up polluted waterways.




                                                                                                                   11
                                        Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                                State of the Birds
                                                 December 2006
Growth Management and Transportation
Florida‟s growth management and transportation policies are failing to deal with the state‟s rapid population
growth. New development, often following new roads, is chewing up Florida‟s rural and natural areas. State
policies must focus on urban infill and on increasing public participation in regional planning. Goals:


        Citizen Participation in Regional Planning - Increase grassroots participation in regional and local plans
         in order to designate habitat protection areas and require conservation lands to mitigate new
         development.
        State Oversight - Focus state review on ecosystems and natural areas.
        New Roads - Divert highway projects away from intact ecosystems and natural areas.


Wildlife and Protected Species
Many species are at risk as a result of habitat alteration. Maintaining abundant resident and migratory wildlife
populations requires increased understanding of wildlife needs, stronger rules and intervention for recovery.
Goals:


        Laws and Rules to Protect Wildlife - Amend and strengthen Florida's protected species rules to increase
         emphasis on designation and protection of species and critical habitat and on enforcement.
        Bird Conservation – Push policies and programs that help rare birds recover and keep common birds
         common.
        Endangered Species Act - Align with national campaigns to defend and advance federal environmental
         wildlife protection policies.


Global Warming
Human activities such as primarily power generation and transportation are causing overwhelming releases of
greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. International scientific consensus concludes
that the build up of these gases is increasingly trapping heat, which is warming the earth‟s surface and
atmosphere. The effects of global warming, including changes in climate, weather and sea levels, are a leading
threat to many bird species and the habitats on which they depend and are likely to threaten human health and
prosperity.


Florida is the nation‟s third largest consumer of fossil-fuel based energy, and subsequently makes a significant
contribution to the emission of carbon dioxide. The United States is responsible for approximately one-quarter of
all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Actions in Florida will influence national and international efforts. Goals:


        Greenhouse Gas Targets - Promote local, state and federal actions to set specific greenhouse gas
         emission reduction goals.
        Clean Energy Alternatives - Promote adoption of clean and alternative energy sources and efficiency in
         energy production and use and transportation.
        State and Local Leadership - Engage the public and decision makers to create state and local pressure
         on the US for national and international action to reduce the causes of global warming.


Audubon’s Regional Approach to Conservation
Audubon of Florida‟s six regional conservation programs deploy staff, chapter and volunteer leadership to create
public and political support for ecosystem based conservation. Regional programs will unite Audubon science,
policy and grassroots effort.


The following are summaries of Audubon‟s 2007 six regional program resolutions. For the full text of these
resolutions, please download the PDF version here.


Everglades and Lake Okeechobee
Audubon continues its leadership role in promoting policy and science for Everglades Restoration and Lake




                                                                                                                   12
                                        Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                                State of the Birds
                                                 December 2006
Okeechobee and (downstream) estuary recovery. Audubon‟s focus is on getting government to deliver on its
commitments to store, clean and flow billions of gallons of water, now wasted to tide, back into the natural
system, especially Everglades National Park and Florida and Biscayne Bays.


Audubon also will push to upgrade Lake Okeechobee recovery with projects to clean up and store water entering
the watershed. These efforts require billions of dollars to buy land and build projects. Restoration also means that
water be used primarily for the environment instead of water supply to promote growth.


Big Cypress Regional Ecosystems
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, with its old-growth cypress forest, is the heart of Audubon‟s southwest
regional program. The region‟s complex ecosystems provide habitat for keynote species such as the Florida
Panther and the Wood Stork, which suffer increasing pressure from development and population growth.
Audubon is working with allies to protect land, condition development impacts and restore the freshwater flows in
key areas from north of the Caloosahatchee River to the Ten Thousand Islands.


Central Florida Ecosystems
Major aquatic systems in Central Florida provide habitat for the largest concentration of bald eagles in the lower
48 states. The Green Swamp, the Wekiva, the Upper St. Johns River and the Kissimmee River watershed are all
under tremendous growth pressure. Audubon is working with regional governments and business leaders to map
a plan to protect major components of these systems through purchase or to offset new development. The result
will be permanent protection of large habitat areas to ensure the sustainability of Florida‟s eagle populations. The
plan will provide additional emphasis on protecting habitat for other critical species including Florida Scrub-jays.


Gulf Coast Ecosystems
Building on the Coastal Islands Sanctuary and our chapters‟ legacy of protecting wading bird and shorebird
colonies, the Gulf Coast Ecosystems program will mobilize public support for protecting and maintaining vital
nesting and foraging areas. Audubon intends to balance the heavily populated coastal areas with the needs of the
wildlife that depend on the fragments of habitat left there. This requires pushing for clean water, restoring
freshwater flows, wetlands protection and control of human impacts on nesting areas.


Northwest Coastal Habitats
Building on the work of chapters in the Panhandle, Audubon will redouble efforts to protect habitat and water
resources along Florida‟s Northwest Coast. At the center of these efforts will be securing the commitments made
in Bay County‟s West Bay Sector Plan to protect and restore up to 40,000 acres of marshes and land in West Bay
area of St. Andrew Bay. Audubon will establish a nature center on West Bay to educate residents and visitors
about the ecological benefits of coastal protection. The plan proposes a focus on other coastal habitats from
Escambia Bay to the Econfina for the benefit of resident and migratory bird species, and other plants and
animals.


Northeast Coastal Habitats
Important Bird Areas (IBAs) along Florida‟s Atlantic coast and a noticeable decline in coastal bird populations
point to the need for new efforts to inform and educate the public and decision-makers about the importance of
these areas and to defend them against inappropriate human impacts. As untouched coastal habitats dwindle, it
is increasingly important to preserve these oases. The beaches of Northeast Florida are of critical significance to
shorebirds, and this region‟s mosaic of marshes and hammocks are critically important to migratory birds.


Your Role is Key

Please support the 2006 Conservation Agenda by taking these actions:


1. Join the Florida Conservation Network to get regular email reports on policy issues.


2. Participate and take a leadership role with your local Audubon Society. Come to the regional conservation
committee meetings where the six above referenced programs are discussed.


3. Attend the annual Audubon Assembly in October 2006.




                                                                                                                 13
                                        Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society
                                                State of the Birds
                                                 December 2006
4. Speak with, write to, or call elected decision-makers and other public officials and ask them to support
environmental laws and programs.


5. Underwrite Audubon of Florida‟s public policy programs with regular donations.


Together we can mitigate the consequences of growth by protecting Florida‟s land and water and our birds and
other wildlife.




                                                                                                               14

				
DOCUMENT INFO