In 2007, the CREW Land & Water Trust donated $300,000 (5.6%) toward the $5.3 million dollar purchase of Caracara Prairie Preserve (formerly known as the Starnes property) and became a co-owner with Conservation Collier. The preserve is 367 acres of ranch land adjacent to the CREW Cypress Dome Trails, currently has an active cattle lease, and is being used as a Gopher Tortoise Mitigation Unit.
On April 1st, 2012 CREW interns Alex Knoll and Melanie Perez organized a service learning event at Caracara Prairie in honor of Let’s Get Outdoors (G.O!) month. About 20 people showed up to dig holes and install the 197 trail marker posts used to mark the trails. The same weekend, Nick McNamara, a boy scout from Naples, designed and installed nine “kissing gates” to allow hikers through fences that run through the property. The gates were part of his Eagle Scout project.
CREW Trust staff and volunteers and Conservation Collier staff worked through the rest of the spring to paint, make signs, create maps, and put the finishing touches on the hiking trails.
On National Trails Day®, June 2nd, 2012, the three miles of new hiking trails officially opened to the public. The trails are accessible from the
CREW Cypress Dome Trailhead. You hike the Cypress Dome Trail Yellow Loop and Green Loop to a crossover ditch to reach the “Red Trail” at Caracara Prairie Preserve. The Preserve trails are very different from the CREW trails. Because this property has an active cattle lease, dogs are not allowed on the trails in Caracara Prairie Preserve.
Caracara Prairie Preserve is home to caracaras, gopher tortoises, sandhill cranes, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, swallow-tailed kites, and much more. The active cattle lease provides the additional adventure of seeing cows while hiking. For more information about Caracara Prairie Preserve and Conservation Collier go here.
- Today’s Adventure: Caracara prairie Preserve hike for National Trails Day (mymobileadventures.com)