CREW Trust welcomes Allison Vincent

The CREW Land & Water Trust is pleased to announce the addition of Allison Vincent as the new Communications Director.

Previously, Allison was the Communications Director for Super Science & Amazing Art, an educational entertainment company in SWFL. She has a B.A. in anthropology with a focus in archaeology from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida.

“We are very excited to work with Allison,” said Brenda Brooks, Executive Director for CREW Land & Water Trust. “She and her family have been connected to the CREW Project for several years and are often seen hiking the trails. We know her passion for conservation and education will be an asset in this position.”

CREW and You, part 5 and 6: WHY and HOW

This is part 5 and 6 of our six-part series on the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the CREW Trust.

The trestle bridge at Bird Rookery Swamp

In our previous posts, we’ve talked about the 60,000-acre Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) and the role of the CREW Land & Water Trust.

Our nonprofit is dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of the water resources and natural communities in and around CREW.

We do this through assisting with funding and land acquisition and through environmental education.

At the heart of our WHY is this: we care passionately about the water, the land, and the flora and fauna within the watershed.

We care.

Part of protecting anything, from land to water to animals, is getting people to care. We know that, when someone is out on the trails and learns about how a drop of water moves through the watershed and is filtered by the 5,000-acre sawgrass marsh and helps fill our aquifer, we are helping them care about where their water comes from.

When a student learns about the palmetto berries and the bears that feed on them, they have an understanding of why we protect both the berry and the bear and how they (including the human) are all connected in our ecosystem.

Because we know that, when someone cares, they then ask HOW. How can they be part of protecting and preserving water? How can they work towards making sure that our future generations have clean water to drink?

How can they help protect endangered species like the Florida Panther?

game camera image by Tom Mortenson

All of us here at CREW Land & Water Trust – from staff to interns to volunteers and Trustees – we are all part of this nonprofit because at some time, we learned, then cared, then felt called to do something.

And if you have attended a program and learned about the watershed, or wandered the trails and watched a swallow-tailed kite soar overhead, you probably care, too. You are part of our why, and you can be part of our how.

Become a member. Our members help support our environmental education programs, not just through their membership dues, but also through attending our programs as paid participants.

Volunteer. Our volunteers do everything, from trail maintenance and exotic plant removal to assisting with field trips and leading guided walks. We simply could not educate the over 49,000 people who visited the CREW Trails or participated in a CREW Trust program last year without our volunteers.

The reality is, no one person started the CREW Project, and no one person founded the CREW Land & Water Trust. It took a few people caring a lot to start the process of acquiring and preserving land within the 60,000-acre border. Their WHY led to their HOW and it’s up to us to continue and carry the passion they had 30 years ago into the years to come.

CREW and You, part 4: WHERE

Map of CREW

This is part 4 of a 6-part series on the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the CREW Land & Water Trust.

Map of CREW
The CREW Project

It’s pretty often that we get a phone call at our office and someone says, “Where are you located?” or “Where is the trail?”

So let’s cover that today.

WHERE, exactly, is the CREW Land & Water Trust located?

At a field station. A super, top-secret field station, with radiactive sandhill cranes that guard the entrance. (Just kidding about all of that except for the field station part.)

The CREW Trust shares an office with two of our partners in the CREW Project – South Florida Water Management District and Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Because this is a shared office, and we have no trails (really, none – it’s very boring), we use our address for mail only. If you do look us up on Google maps based on our mailing address, we appear to be somewhere in the middle of some strange fields off of Corkscrew Road.

Basically, where WE are isn’t as important as where the CREW Project is.

The CREW Project is a 60,000-acre watershed that spans Lee and Collier Counties. There are four trail systems that are open to the public for various recreation opportunities.

The CREW Trail Systems: A – CREW Marsh Trails; B – Cypress Dome Trails; C – Bird Rookery Swamp; and now a trail has opened in Flint Pen Strand.

The CREW Marsh Trails (4600 CR 850 (Corkscrew Road), Immokalee, FL 34142 ) were the first trails to open within the CREW Project and feature 5.5 miles of looped trails. The trails are located in Collier County and meander through pine flatwoods, sawgrass marsh, oak hammock and popash slough ecosystems.

The Cypress Dome Trails & Caracara Prairie Preserve (3980 CR 850 (Corkscrew Road), Immokalee, FL 34142) are located in Collier County near the Lee County border. The Cypress Dome Trails offer 6 miles of looped trails and connect to the Caracara Prairier Preserve, which is owned and managed by Conservation Collier.

Bird Rookery Swamp Trail (1295 Shady Hollow Boulevard, Naples, FL 34120) is an approximately 12 mile trail located in Collier County. The trail features a shell path, short boardwalk and grassy tram – a remnant of its logging history.

The first trail in Flint Pen Strand opened in November 2018 and more are in development. The 1.5-mile red trail offers views of the Kehl Canal along with sections of seasonal marsh and hydric pine.

CREW and You, part 3: WHEN

This is part 3 of a 6-part series on the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the CREW Land & Water Trust.

CREW Marsh Trails observation tower, overlooking the 5,000-acre sawgrass marsh

This year the CREW Land & Water Trust is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary. The “when” of our story started 30 years ago and we’ve been working hard ever since to preserve the water, land and wildlife within the 60,000-acre CREW Project.

We are proud of our history and our role in the CREW Project and encourage you to read about it in full on our HISTORY page.

It’s pretty difficult to condense all of our history into one infograph, especially considering the many names that have written this history. From founder Joel Kuperburg and our first executive director, Ellen Lindblad, to our longest-serving volunteer, Dr. David Cooper, our history includes volunteers, members, friends, land managers, biologists, students, professors, residents and visitors. We are thankful for everyone who has had a hand in the success of our nonprofit and look forward to working with you all in the years to come to preserve our watershed and its most important natural resource – water.

Our season review: a letter from the Executive Director

Flint Pen Strand – photo by Klaus Harvey

As our weather turns warmer and rainy season is on the horizon, I find myself reflecting on this past season.

This year the CREW Trust celebrates its 30th anniversary. So much has been accomplished in that time frame, with much more yet to be completed. Of the 60,000-acres within the borders of the watershed, almost 55,000-acres within the Corkscrew Regoinal Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) have been acquired. We continue to pursue our mission of preserving and protecting water, our most valuable natural resource, through working with our partners, specifically Lee County’s Conservation 20/20 program and Collier County’s Conservation Collier.

Education is a key component of ensuring that generations today and those that follow will connect with the land and the wildlife within the CREW Project borders and understand the value of the watershed. We are thankful for the visitors, residents, schools and CREW Trust members who participated in this season’s programs and visited the four trail systems.

This season saw the opening of the fourth and final CREW Project trail system – Flint Pen Strand. Our volunteers have worked for several years to create and mark the first two trails and continue to work on additional trails. Our Board of Trustees have been key players in this process through their work behind the scenes to assist the CREW Trust and our partners in making this exceptional area open to the public.

I have spent time over the last few weeks exploring the yellow loop in Flint Pen Strand. As I stood amidst the dwarf cypress and blooming bladderwort north of Kehl Canal, I thought of my dear friend Jim Goodwin and the hours he put into making Flint Pen Strand a reality. There is no other place in CREW like it, and I’m thankful to our volunteers, members, Board of Trustees and friends who have helped open this fourth trail system so we can all share in the beauty of the watershed.

Summer is our time to plan for next season, and I look forward to seeing you on the trails and thank you for continuing to support the CREW Trust and share in the remarkable beauty that is the CREW Project.

Brenda Brooks

Executive Director

CREW Land & Water Trust

CREW Trust Executive Director Brenda Brooks

CREW and You, part 2: WHAT

This is part 2 of a 6-part series on the Who, What, When, Where, Why and Hows of CREW and the CREW Trust.

CREW Marsh Trails observation tower, overlooking the 5,000-acre sawgrass marsh

In our last blog post, we established WHO we are (CREW Trust), and WHO is involved in the CREW Project. Today, let’s explore the whats – WHAT is CREW, and WHAT does the CREW Trust do?


CREW stands for Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, a 60,000-acre watershed that spans Lee and Collier counties.

The land is preserved for our most important natural resource: water.

What does the watershed do?

During rainy season, if you followed one drop of rain water, it would fall in the northern part of the watershed – the CREW Marsh Trails. From there, it would move slowly over the land and into seasonal marshes or through the 5,000-acre sawgrass marsh that is the heart of the CREW Project.

The sawgrass helps filter the water, which then continues to slowly move either west towards Flint Pen Strand and into the Kehl Canal (then the Imperial River and finally Gulf of Mexico) or south to Bird Rookery Swamp and into the Cocohatchee River and then the Gulf of Mexico.

But we do not want all of that water to leave the watershed. The majority of that water needs to sit on the land, seep through the roots of the plants and the sandy soil, then through the limestone and into our aquifer.

We rely on our aquifer to provide us with all of the water we use in SWFL – from cooking and drinking to taking showers and flushing toilets. We do not have glacier melt or springs or reservoirs and rely solely on the aquifer. Large green spaces are need for aquifer recharging, and that is the main function of the Corkscrew Regional Ecocystem Watershed (CREW).

Because the land is preserved for water, it is also a home for wildlife, including some critical and endangered plant and animal species. The ecosystems include seasonal marshes, pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, popash sloughs, cypress domes, cypress swamps, hydric pine and more. Animals that can be found throughout CREW include Florida black bears, Florida panthers, coral snakes, alligators, grasshopper sparrows, roseate spoonbills, swallow-tailed kites, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, bobcats, lubber grasshoppers, zebra longwing butterflies and so many more. Due to the many ecosystems within CREW and the variety of wildlife that live within the 60,000-acre border, the second function of CREW is as a home for Southwest Florida flora and fauna.

What does the CREW Trust do?

The CREW Land & Water Trust is a private, non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of the water resources and natural communities in and around the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW).

We do this through assisting with funding and land acquisition within the 60,000-acre CREW project border.

As part of our commitment to the preservation and stewardship of CREW, we provide environmental education programs for students of all ages on the four CREW Project trails (CREW Marsh Trails, Cypress Dome Trails, Flint Pen Strand Trails and Bird Rookery Swamp Trails).

We believe that, if we teach people about the watershed and the wildlife within its borders, we can help make connections that will ensure that future generations will continue to care not just about preserving CREW but care about preserving more watersheds nationally and globally.

CREW and YOU, part 1: WHO

This is part 1 of a 6-part series on the Who, What, When, Where, Why and Hows of CREW and the CREW Trust.

When we first meet people, whether it’s visitors, new members, new volunteers or residents, introducing ourselves (explaining who we are) can be confusing.

It’s not an easy answer.

For example, when you introduce yourself, you say “Hi, my name is Blankity Blank, and I’m a rockstar astrophysicist who enjoys entomology.”

(Also, if that is you, let’s be friends as soon as possible)

But when we, the CREW Trust meet someone knew, explaining who we are can take five minutes – and that’s the short version.

Most people check out within the first two sentences – once they realize we’re going to say a lot of really long words, some of which may be new, like “aquifer recharge” and, well, honestly even what CREW stands for trips people up.

So let’s break it down into WHO exactly we are, and how that relates to CREW.


The acronym stands for the Corkscrew Regional Ecosytem Watershed, which is a 60,000-acrew watershed that spans Lee and Collier counties in Southwest Florida.

(we will get into the WHAT of the watershed in our next post)

So, CREW is the name for the land. (super short version of the definition)

The CREW Project

We sometimes refer to the entire 60,000-acres as the CREW Project, because CREW involves multiple agencies.

Those agencies include the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Conservation Collier, Conservation 20/20 and the CREW Land & Water Trust. Corkscrew Audubon Sanctuary is also within the borders of the CREW Project.

CREW Land & Water Trust (CREW Trust)

We, the CREW Land & Water Trust, are the non-profit agency attached to the CREW Project.

We help with funding and land acquisition and provide environmental education at the four trail systems within the CREW Project – the CREW Marsh Trails, Cypress Dome Trails, Bird Rookery Swamp and Flint Pen Strand.

The CREW Trust is often confused with CREW (as in, the names are used interchangeably) but we try to stress that we are part of the multi-agency project and NOT the land owners, land managers, biologists, law enforcement… we are helpers within the CREW Project.

We are ultimately tasked with helping each person we meet learn about WHAT CREW is (and what you can do at the trails), WHERE it is located (along with the trails), WHEN the project started and its timeline, WHY it’s important to protect the watershed, and HOW the public can help.

Tails on Trails: Five tips for hiking with your dog

Piper and Charlotte hiking the Cypress Dome Trails complete with a pack for carrying their hiking supplies.

We love seeing tails wagging out on our trails. The wide paths of the CREW Marsh Trails and Cypress Dome Trails are perfect for exploring with your pooch.

Before you head out for a hike, check out a few of our recommendations to help make your hike a success for you and an enjoyable experience for your pet.

Safety First

For your dog’s safety, he/she must be leashed. We also recommend making sure they walk in the center of the trail. Why?

Fire Ants.

No one wants to accidentally step into a fire ant mound, and the since the ants nest in disturbed areas with a lot of sunshine, the edges of the trail are their preferred nesting spots. Once one ant bites, it releases a pheromone that tells all of the other ants to swarm. It’s difficult enough to brush the furious ants from your own boots/socks/pants so just imagine the impossible task of quickly removing them from your pet’s fur.

Staying in the middle of the trail also helps minimize the chances that your curious pup will encounter any reptilian friends that are sunning on the sides of the trail. And a leashed pet also lets other trail users know that you, the owner, are respectful of everyone out there, including the wildlife.

If you are concerned about mosquitos, please do not use mosquito spray designed for humans. DEET is toxic for dogs and can make them very sick. Instead, opt for a mosquito spray designed for dogs or an at-home mix of essential oils.

We also recommend packing a pet first aid kit in your backpack before heading out for a hike. It should include things like a cold pack, gauze, bandages, tweezers, antiseptic and insect sting relief pads. If you do have a medical emergency on the trails, call 911.

And, after your hike, do a post-hike pet check at the car. We recommend checking your dog’s paws for any debris or wiping their paws with a wet cloth.


You aren’t the only one who will get thirsty hiking the trails. Just imagine hiking a mile in a fur coat – that is how hot your pooch is going to get in our glorious sunshine and high humidity and he/she cannot sweat to cool themselves off. Pack water for both yourself AND your pooch and bring along a collapsible water bowl to make drinking easy for your pet.

Worried about carrying everything? Consider purchasing a pack for your dog. There are a lot of options on the market and a good-fitting pack can help your dog share in carrying your supplies.

Also, if you are packing a snack to keep your energy up, pack a snack for your pup as well. Hiking is hard work and everyone, including your dog, needs a break in a shady spot with a tasty snack.

Misty enjoys a rest break in the shade at the Cypress Dome Trails.

Pack out what you bring in – even poop

Ahhhhh, the pet waste debate. Ask any frequent hiker at our trails and they’ll tell you all to often the scat they are identifying so eagerly isn’t from bobcats or panthers – it’s from dogs.

Leaving your pet waste behind isn’t just a nuisance for other hikers who may step in it – it’s also dangerous for wildlife. Dog waste can contain harmful bacteria which can affect wildlife or end up in our water. And, if your dog happens to ingest feces that was left by other dogs on the trail, they can get sick with diseases such as Parvo or parasites including tapeworms.

Take dog waste bags with you and pick up after your pet. You’ll also need to transport that waste to a garbage can, so plan accordingly. Because the CREW trail systems are primitive, they do not have trash cans and all guests are expected to follow the Leave No Trace principles.

Good behavior goes a long way

There are multiple user groups at each trail system, including horses and bikers at the Cypress Dome Trails and birders and photographers at all trails.

If your dog needs to work on their manners, meaning, if they bark a lot and may distrub birders, you may want to head to the trails during off-peak times. Birders and wildlife photographers usually hit the trails very early in the morning so, if you want to avoid any angry glares or shushing noises, head out later in the morning. If your pet doesn’t like crowds, check to see when programs are being offered at the trails and avoid hiking during programming times. And, if you are unsure if hiking is right for your pet, try short walks around the neighborhood and note how they react to other dogs and people. They’ll likely react to people, wildlife and other dogs on the trails the same way so, if they need more time to work with you on manners, take that time before heading out to hike.

And owners, good behavior on your part is key. When you see other hikers, step to the side and guide your dog so they do not venture close to other hikers, who may be leary of dogs or uncomfortable around them. When we all get along on the trails, everyone benefits.

Harriet shows off her excellent hiking skills and good behavior while staying safely in the middle of the trails at the Cypress Dome Trails. Good girl, Harriet, those are some gold-star hiking skills.

Know before you go

Before heading out to the trails, check out the trail maps and descriptions, user groups and trail conditions on our website. Once you arrive at the trails, note your GPS location in case of emergency and take note of any wildlife warning signs.

We suggest taking photos of the snakes that you may encounter on the trails, which are on a poster at the kiosks. We have several venomous snakes that your curious pup may encounter along the sides of the trails or off the trails (but we certainly hope they do not venture off the trail).

It’s also important to note the route you plan to take on a map and make sure that the distance you plan to cover fits the fitness level of yourself and your dog. Short hikes are a great way to start enjoying the trails and slowly build up both your endurance and your dog’s.

Special thanks to Harriet, Misty, Charlotte and Piper for bringing their humans out for a hike! Harriet’s owner, Cheryl, won a private Tails on Trails hike at our 2019 CREW Concert & Silent Eco-Auction.

See what’s flitting around Bird Rookery Swamp this week!

Special thanks to volunteer naturalist Dick Brewer, who regularly visits the CREW trails and compiles wildlife counts. This valuable citizen science is shared with the CREW Trust staff and our FWC biologists and helps give us a glimpse of all the wildlife using the trails.

Needham’s Skimmer, identified and photographed by Dick Brewer

Bird Rookery Swamp

Thursday, March 28 ~~ 7:25 AM – 2:10 PM

temperature: 59.3-77.8º ~~ RH 83.9-44.9%

sky: clear ~~ wind 7-12 mph


Common Gallinule – 1

Double-crested Cormorant – 1

Anhinga – 10

Great Blue Heron – 2

Great Egret – 12

Snowy Egret – 1

Little Blue Heron – 5

Tri-colored Heron – 1

Black-crowned Night Heron – 2

White Ibis – 72

Black Vulture – 3

Turkey Vulture – 4

Swallow-tailed Kite – 7

Red-shouldered Hawk – 23

Belted Kingfisher – 4

Red-bellied Woodpecker – 23

Downy Woodpecker – 3

Pileated Woodpecker – 5

Great-crested Flycatcher – 3

Eastern Phoebe –  1

White-eyed Vireo – 19

Blue Jay – 1

American Crow – 2

Tufted Titmouse – 9

Carolina Wren – 17

House Wren – 1

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher – 2

Gray Catbird – 13

Common Grackle – 9

Palm Warbler –  2

Northern Cardinal – 13


Palamedes Swallowtail – 3

Tiger Swallowtail – 1

Ruddy Daggerwing – 1

White Peacock – 61

Gulf Fritillary – 1

Phaon Crescent – 1

Tropical Checker – 3


Eastern Pondhawk – 72

Blue Dasher – 82

Blue Dasher, identified and photographed by Dick Brewer

Needham’s Skimmer – 18

Regal Darner – 3

Halloween Pennant – 1

Slaty Skimmer – 1


Alligator – 41

Brown Anole – 1

Red-bellied Turtle – 3


White-tailed Deer – 1

CREW Trust accepting applications for Communications Strategist

Posted March 25, 2019. Application, cover letter, resume and three references are due by Monday, April 15, 2019 by 12 p.m. (noon) EST.

CREW Land & Water Trust is currently accepting applications for the position of Communications Strategist.

A section from the job description:

“The Communications Strategist (CS) will work as an integral part of the CREW Land & Water Trust team to help make people aware of our nonprofit and the CREW Project by enhancing the public’s enjoyment of CREW through communication, teaching and interpretation. The CS will set and guide the strategy for all communications, website and public relations to articulate the CREW Trust’s mission. The CS is responsible for the day-to-day development, coordination and execution of programs and projects, and will be working closely with other staff, volunteers, educators and others. The CS will also assist with other related duties to ensure the sustainability of the CREW Trust.”

Interested applicants should have excellent communication and time management skills; work well with others, as the CREW Trust is part of a multi-agency project; and have a passion for our mission.

For more information on this position, please read the full CREW Trust Communications Strategist Job Description below.

The CREW Land & Water Trust is a 501(c)3 non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of the water resources and natural communities in and around the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW). The CREW Trust partners with private businesses and public agencies (including the South Florida Water Management Disrict [SFWMD] and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission [FWC]) to purchase and protect the lands within the CREW Project. Crew Trust’s environmental education and public outreach programs for adults and children are a key part of its mission to protect and preserve the 60,000-acre watershed and the wildlife within its borders. Communication with the public through digital and print media, programs staffed by volunteers, engaging social media posts and more is what makes the role of the Communications Strategist an essential part of the CREW Trust’s staff.

Interested applicants should submit an application, cover letter, resume and three references to Brenda Brooks, Executive Director ( no later than Monday, April 15, 2019 at 12 p.m. (noon) EST.

The CREW Trust is an equal opportunity employer and employs without regard to race, color, religion, gender, age, national origin or disabilities in compliance with federal and state laws.

Applications, cover letters, resumes and references may be submitted electronically to Brenda Brooks, Executive Director ( or by mail to CREW Land & Water Trust, 23998 Corkscrew Road, Estero, FL 33928. Mailed documents are still subject to the April 15 deadline.

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