Audubon has protected birds and the places they need in the region since the 1930s. In 1980, Audubon purchased 7,300 acres to create a prairie sanctuary, which was later sold to the Florida Park Service and combined with state-owned land to create the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park. Money from the sale was placed in an endowment, from which funds to purchase the bunk house have been drawn.
Audubon’s Paul Gray, PhD, Everglades Science Coordinator, said “Since protecting the Preserve, the Florida Park Service has been doing an exceptional job of managing and restoring this piece of ‘The Real Florida.’ And to have gotten to this next milestone in Dry Prairie conservation, which has been a uniquely Audubon effort, is immeasurably rewarding.”
“The new bunkhouse is a welcome and needed addition to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, and we’re thankful to our partners at Audubon for their generosity,” said Florida State Parks Director Chuck Hatcher. “The bunkhouse will serve to house wildlife surveyors whose work begins before dawn, prescribed fire teams who are traveling in from out of town, and Americorps members who graciously volunteer their time and energy to the park.”
Dry prairies occupy very flat areas and are one of the most diverse plant communities in North America. The prairies of central Florida host a unique suite of birds that includes the Florida Sandhill Crane, Audubon’s Crested Caracara, Burrowing Owl, Mottled Duck, and one of the nation’s most endangered birds, the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow. The extensive wetland complexes host a variety of wading and water birds, and the Sanctuary’s population of breeding Florida Grasshopper Sparrows is one of 6 known in the world.
Audubon Florida is Florida’s oldest statewide conservation nonprofit, working to protect Florida’s water, wildlife, habitat, and climate. We use strong science to inform pragmatic policy solutions to the environmental challenges facing Florida, involving people and communities to protect the natural resources that underpin our economy and quality of life. Fl.audubon.org.