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We meet the new Director of Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Keith Laakkonen, the new Director of Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
courtesy photo
Keith Laakkonen, the new Director of Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Collier County has been an Audubon-protected site since the early 1900s and is considered a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. Science-based land management practices protect the sanctuary’s 13,450 acres, including the world’s largest remaining, old-growth bald cypress forest. And it's home to a wide variety of plants and animals, including alligators, river otters, and many bird species including the threatened Wood Stork. It's also home to many plant species, including the incredibly rare "super" ghost orchid.

Roughly 100,000 people visit the Sanctuary’s more than two miles of boardwalk each year exploring the ancient forest and marsh habitat. There are cypress trees at Corkscrew that are more than 500 years old.

We meet the sanctuary’s new director, Keith Laakkonen. Keith is a southwest Florida native with a background in watershed management, environmental policy, wildlife ecology, prescribed fire management, and more.

With more than 20 years of environmental management experience as a public servant, Laakkonen most recently worked for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as Director at Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples and as regional administrator for the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection. During this time, he managed 110,000 acres of coastal lands and waters and oversaw the design and construction of the Ten Thousand Islands Field Station and Dormitory in Goodland. He also held the position of President of the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association which represents 30+ National Estuarine Research Reserves around the nation.

Click hereto see the vintage Florida nature documentary produced in the early 90s by WGCU's predecessor, WSFP Public Television.

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