CREW Trust installs new Watershed Signs

Most of our visitors come to the CREW trails for recreation. Walking, hiking, camping, birding, trail running, horseback riding – there are a lot of different ways to play!

What most people don’t know is that recreation – and people – are actually third on the list of what the CREW Project land is for. Habitat for wildlife is second on the list, and the number one spot, the main reason that the CREW Project exists is to preserve land for water.

If you’ve been on a guided walk or attended a field trip, you’ve probably heard us talk about the watershed, and our aquifer, and why it’s important for our aquifer to be recharged each year during the rainy season. It’s a tough concept, though – explaining a watershed while you’re standing on top of an observation tower, looking over the 5,000-acre sawgrass marsh.

A few years ago, Brenda Brooks, our executive director had an idea – what if we had something permanent on the trails, like a sign, or a 3-D model, that explained what a watershed was? Something that helped our visitors with a sense of their place within a watershed, something that helped them understand their connection to the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed and, most importantly – why they should care.

In 2017, the CREW Trust staff approached local graphic designer Mike Donlan with a rough construction paper model created by Brenda and volunteer George Luther and asked him – could he help?

The result, after months of work, is our new “What is a Watershed” sign, installed at each of our trail systems.

The signs were paid for by a generous grant through the South Florida Water Management District – Big Cypress Basin.

The center image of each sign is a watershed model that depicts the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, including the very slight elevation change and the different ecosystems within it. The background photograph was taken from inside one of the sawgrass marshes at the Cypress Dome Trails. Pictures on the right panel help explain the four reasons why visitors should care about the watershed.

“Our hope is that this sign will help visitors connect with CREW,” explained Brenda. “We know people love the trails and the wildlife but CREW is really about water. This sign will help further our mission of protecting and preserving the land for our most important natural resource in Southwest Florida.”

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