This nature preserve was created in the early 1990s after The Walt Disney Company donated the land to The Nature Conservancy, in part to offset lands impacted by the development of the Walt Disney World Resort. This approach to conservation of an ecosystem was, at the time, a unique collaboration between government, business, and conservation organizations.
The preserve is near the top of the headwaters of the Florida Everglades and is bordered by Lake Russell. This area is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals, including sandhill cranes, wild turkeys, bald eagles, the eastern indigo snake, and the gopher tortoise. The preserve is open to the public – including hikers and birdwatchers – during the week, Monday through Friday.
The Disney Wilderness Preserve was the first national project to transform a degraded landscape into a healthy and functioning ecosystem. The Nature Conservancy also partners with Disney’s Animal Kingdom to monitor the most closely studied wood stork rookeries in the United States.
The 20th anniversary open house is scheduled for April 27 at the preserve. Visitors will have a chance to learn about nature and the work being conducted by The Nature Conservancy with special guests that include scientists, Florida cowboys, wildlife biologists, and environmental educators.