Possum Long Nature Center
Audubon of Martin County is based at the Clifton "Possum" Long Nature Center. The Audubon office houses an extensive natural history library, meeting room, bird-art and a collection of taxidermy specimens. The preserve lies behind the Audubon House and includes almost 5-acres of urban forest that are slowly being rehabilitated after the ravages of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. In 2010, we completed construction of a Storm-water Retrofit project, which added a pond and sloughs carefully engineered to mimic the wet/dry cycles of natural wetlands. These areas attract wading birds, Osprey, migrating birds and ducks.
If you haven't enjoyed this green sanctuary we invite you to stop by, walk the trails, enjoy the butterfly garden, have a picnic or just spend a quiet hour looking for the many birds who stop by for food and rest. The grounds are open to the public at no charge every day from dawn to dusk.
Who was "Possum Long"?
Possum was a science and agriculture teacher at Stuart's high school in the 1940's. Several versions of how Possum got his nickname have been circulated over the years. The most popular and oft repeated tale is that he played "possum" in order to catch his students at mischief. We all know that opossums, when threatened, will pretend to be dead and when this strategy is used, predators soon lose interest and leave the animal alone. Around 1950, he built a house on the foundation of an old barn where local children once stabled their horses. He operated a plant nursery and for years Stuart newlyweds received a plant to grow in their yards as a wedding gift from him.
The house, now known as the "Possum Long House," has long been used as a meeting place for the Garden Club of Stuart which maintains the grounds around it and has created a memory lane to honor some of its members.
Despite the fact that the sanctuary is located in the midst of the most densely developed region of Martin County, wildlife seem strangely attracted to the preserve. Since 2002, two pairs of Yellow-crowned Night Herons have successfully nested in the mature slash pines on the property. One would be hard put to find better validation of the fact that even small-scale land rehabilitation can provide a viable habitat for wildlife.
In March, 2009 a pair of osprey began building a brand new nest in a slash pine snag. The dead snag looked precarious, and was replaced by a telephone pole during the 2010 Stormwater Retrofit Project.