Sharing Stories of Everyday Good

Why we must preserve the natural legacy of the Western Everglades

Since 1961, Audubon of the Western Everglades (AWE) has embraced the challenge of passing Southwest Florida’s natural abundance to our children and theirs — and for all future generations.

Clean water is the basis for all life on earth, giving us natural beauty, wildlife, water supplies, beautiful beaches, and productive estuaries. AWE makes clean water a high priority. We and our partners hold at bay projects which would degrade our coastal estuaries, which provide essential nurseries for an array of growing fish with its tangled mangrove roots and sea grasses.

AWE encourages restoration projects which strike the right balance of fresh and salt water, nutrients, timing of water flows, and flow volumes.

Bird feeds chick on shores AWE educates the public on protecting shorebirds and inland species. (Photo: Jean Hall / Audubon of the Western Everglades)

We also leverage the tools at our disposal: the Audubon's reputation for wildlife protection, effective science-based advocacy for conservation, and family education on the importance of preserving the environment we have inherited.

With more than 1,000 people moving to Florida every day and even more to Southwest Florida, our recent focus has been on advocacy and education favoring:

• Environmentally responsible land usage

Rather than being strictly anti-growth, we work to channel growth to places where it does the least environmental damage while leveraging protection for the largest swathes of undeveloped wildlife habitat. "Smart growth" is the most promising tool to keeping our four-county area as historically intact as possible in the face of increasing population growth.

A stork in the wetlands AWE educates the public on protecting shorebirds and inland species such as wood storks and burrowing owls. (Photo: Jean Hall / Audubon of the Western Everglades)

• Sufficient water availability and high water quality for families, homes, businesses, and the environment

We defend against loss of wetlands, including seasonal and shallow wetlands absolutely vital for aquifer recharge, water filtration, and wildlife diversity. We advocate for volume and quality of water discharges necessary to keep our rivers, creeks, beaches, and estuaries as healthy as possible.

• Protection of wildlife from development in important habitats and from human interference along natural beaches

Flock of birds in Western Everglades AWE brings potential loss of wetlands to official and public attention. (Photo: Jean Hall / Audubon of the Western Everglades)

• Resilience to climate change and sea level rise is necessary for humans and wildlife to continue to thrive in the region, including building defenses against intrusion of salt water into our drinking water supplies

• Promotion of sustainable agriculture through responsible operations and best management practices

The above underscores the need for the tremendous efforts undertaken by our professional staff, board members, and volunteers, which have been generously assisted by funding from Newman’s Own Foundation.

AWE brings potential loss of wetlands to official and public attention, publicizes the benefits of plans aimed at maximizing land-conserved to land-developed, educates the public on protecting shorebirds and inland species such as wood storks and burrowing owls, and exposes children — the future leaders of conservation — to nature, and to see for themselves the importance of saving their heritage.

Founded in 1961, Audubon of the Western Everglades is the oldest conservation organization in Collier County. We are one of 43 local Florida chapters dedicated to preserving the quality of life in our respective communities.

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