Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary restoration underway with help from Publix donation

Reporter: Gail Levy
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (CREDIT: WINK News)

Publix has committed to giving the Corkscrew Sanctuary $1.2 million to help restore the wetland.

The money will go toward removing the Carolina Willow, a tree that doesn’t belong there. The trees take up too much water and threaten the Cypress trees and the wildlife that call the swamp home.

Before the willows began to grow the area was all marshland. The willows have taken over approximately 1,800 acres of the 18,000-acre swamp. The sanctuary has already cleared 900 acres. The money from Publix will help clear about 500 acres more.

The goal is to shred the willows and return more than 170 million gallons of water to the environment which will help endangered species that call the area home.

“It was a surprise and to have such a generous donation and to find a collaborative that really agreed on this particular point of how to restore wetlands, how to bring water back and how to create these open wetlands has been a real gift and a great way to come to an agreement on something and work together on it,” said Lisa Korte, director of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

Taking care of Mother Nature should be a top priority, according to Dawn and Chris Hansen, who visited the sanctuary on Friday from Minnesota.

“I mean you imagine something happening to the space and how devastating that would be, not just for the animals but for us, for generations to come you know, for our kids.”

Korte said by shredding the trees, it will allow them to fall into the water and open wetlands which will be an excellent habitat for birds and other wildlife.

The process of removing the trees should take five years. It should bring the ecosystem back to how it was hundreds of years ago.

“You can now see the Willow and our hope is in over the next few years will be able to Open that wetland again and our visitors will be able to see that,” Korte said.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to the largest remaining bald cypress forest in the world and it’s the site for a colony of wood storks, a federally endangered species.

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