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OSBS is administered through the UF Institute of Food & Agricultural Science's (IFAS) Office of the Dean for Research. The Station is located approximately 20 miles east of Gainesville in Melrose (Putnam County, Florida) - roughly north latitude 29°41' and west longitude 82°. Due to the sensitivity of the work conducted on-site, the facility is not open to the public. OSBS is a member of the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS).
OSBS has a mosaic of wetlands and uplands that include sandhills, xeric hammock, upland mixed forest, swamps, marshes, clastic upland lakes, sandhill upland lakes, and marsh lakes. There is a variety of fauna which inhabit the Station including a number of state and federally listed species. Archeological sites on the Station show human presence and require more investigation. The most recent uses of the lands comprising the Station were cattle ranching and game hunting. Wildfires and prescribed burning have had a strong influence on the property.
In early 1980 the Goodhill Foundation awarded a grant to the University of Florida Foundation, Inc., to purchase 2,500 hectares of upland high pine sandhills from the Swisher Foundation. This acreage was to be preserved in the name of Katharine Ordway, the 3M Corporation heiresses who founded Goodhill. At the same time, The Nature Conservancy agreed to lease the Carl Swisher Memorial Sanctuary to the University of Florida Foundation, Inc., and both organizations signed a joint stewardship agreement for the combined properties. The Goodhill Foundation also established an operational endowment to be administered by the University of Florida Foundation, Inc. for the management and protection of both the Katharine Ordway Preserve and Carl Swisher Memorial Sanctuary.
The Nature Conservancy transferred their ownership of the Sanctuary to UF in 2006. In order to more clearly identify the facility's use and purpose, the University of Florida Board of Trustees renamed the facility as the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station that same year. Additional lands have been and still are being added to OSBS for the purpose of maximizing conservation protection and increasing research and education opportunities.