The CREW Project: Meeting a basic human need

By Allison Vincent

Hydrologic restoration results in better natural water flow at CREW Flint Pen Strand

In general, the human mind operates at an exponential pace, keeping time with the flow of society. We tend to have trouble slowing down and observing the different habits of other living things. Likely, that is because it can be difficult to notice these other forms of life living in our human-centric culture, but it can be done closer to home than you might think. 

Think about your first memory of being in a forest, nature preserve or park. You get outside seeking adventure, and whatever you’re expecting, it pales in comparison to the real thing. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to see something that is actually majestic – like a white-tailed deer with a strong prancing grace and huge skyward-facing rack of antlers, or some Everest-high clouds rising above a flat Florida landscape. 

Oftentimes it’s these personal connections that make these natural places special to us as individuals and it’s only through time and experience that we realize the significance is more than it seems. You’ll be glad to know that accompanying the vistas and wildlife along the CREW trails, there’s a long-range plan in effect, one that looks to our universal need for water and the protection of watersheds.

Watersheds are everywhere, get to know yours at CREW!  

CREW Trust leads seasonal walks through our watershed, at CREW Flint Pen Strand

Forward-thinking people have for generations set aside huge swaths of land, like the CREW Project, for future generations. These public lands benefit the present inhabitants of an area manyfold, while also protecting our ongoing needs. The need for water, one of Maslow’s seven basic needs, is met by protecting the CREW watershed where many southwest Florida’s residents get their drinking water.

A unique mixture of partners divide up the roles of preservation at CREW. Land management falls to the primary land owners, the South Florida Water Management District (the District for short) which takes on the arduous role of long range planning – taking into account the complex needs of people and wildlife. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) pursues in-depth and long ranging scientific observation projects focused on CREW’s native wildlife. The non-profit CREW Trust expands public access to the lands through a 36+ mile network of trail systems and provides environmental education to our community through contributions via membership, donations, sponsorships, trail visitation, and volunteerism.

Whatever first brings you to wild places like CREW, or even if you never visit, every single resident in this region of southwest Florida contributes to and benefits from the foresight of protecting CREW’s lands for water. The 60,000+ acre watershed that makes up CREW is permeable – under all those pretty wildflowers and trees that we enjoy on hikes, water soaks through – purifying it through the limestone rock and storing it in the aquifer below.  

Make a connection with CREW

Maypop passionflower with two small visitors

Hiking along the CREW trails, listen for the erratic yet hypnotic buzz of a bee hive you could easily miss in the rapid pace of society. Instead, allow yourself to pause and listen; search for the pixelated movement of wings, coming to and fro from the hive epicenter. It’s not like bees often stop to look at us either, but humans are capable of slowing down to witness another life form. FWC biologists do it all the time at CREW and we are all capable of this broader understanding; that’s why we’ve made it easy to practice your observation skills at CREW. 

Whatever brings you to the CREW trails and if you only remember one important thing from this article remember this: alligators love suntanning as much as Floridians. Seriously though, your contributions- through your tax dollars, your membership with the CREW Trust, or your visits to CREW trails with friends and family – are making a difference for generations to come.

Thank you!

National Trails Day

June 5th, 2021

A Day of Service and Advocacy for Hometown Trails

Join the CREW Trust and take the #NationalTrailsDay Pledge. Millions of people have found physical, mental, and emotional restoration on trails during the pandemic.

Let’s return the favor.

Together we can care for our hometown trails and advocate for equitable access to quality green space.

Taking place on the first Saturday in June, National Trails Day® is a day of public events aimed at advocacy and trail service. 

Thousands of hikers, bikers, rowers, horseback riders, trail clubs, federal and local agencies, land trusts (including the CREW Trust), and businesses come together in partnership to advocate for, maintain, and clean up public lands and trails. 

So no matter where you are, celebrate National Trails Day and join trail lovers everywhere on June 5th! Here’s how you can get involved: 

While the CREW Trust doesn’t have a group event scheduled this year, you can get together with friends and family and make a difference on any trail. The CREW trail system with the most need is at CREW Flint Pen Strand. Bring some trash bags and a few extra hands to help pack out some of that unnatural garbage! Remember, trash collects trash, so the more we can pack out together, the longer lasting impact your work will have.

Not in southwest Florida? Check out these resources for events and needs in your area

CREW Concert Tickets

Who benefits from my donation?

Student groups visiting the CREW trails often express wonder and gratitude for the exposure to water, birds, habitats, trees and plants that we provide. Sadly some of them admit that they’ve never gone on an outdoor hike and some express a little fear. We design activities that they enjoy – teaching them how to use binoculars and spot birds; allowing them to dip net fish and invertebrates which they study through magnifiers before returning them unharmed to their habitats; walking under the canopy of a cypress dome; and investigating the soils of CREW and what it tells us about our environment. Sometimes they get their feet wet but they don’t complain. And by the end of their hike they lose their fear of the outdoors!              

To support and enrich these programs, the CREW Trust has invested in necessary equipment such as binoculars, bird identification books, and dip nets. We handle these items with care and are able to use them for years with different groups. But every year we need to replace some items.

Your purchase of tickets for the 2020 Concert Under the Stars will support these field trip experiences. More importantly, you’re helping us to educate all of our guests on the importance of our watershed and why we need to preserve it for the benefit of all. 

The CREW Concert Sponsor

Support Environmental Education

DEADLINE to become a CREW Concert Sponsor: February 17th

Would you like to contribute to a very worthy local cause? Maybe highlight your company’s name? Or show your personal commitment to educating students in our local environment? 

The worthy local cause you’re looking for is the CREW Land & Water Trust, a non-profit organization that provides environmental education and public outreach for the CREW Project, the 60,000-acre watershed that collects and stores our water, offers wildlife habitat, and provides spectacular recreational opportunities. 

You know what “non-profit” means – it means we need the support of local organizations and people to help us with fundraising. Please consider becoming a sponsor for our most important fundraiser of the year, the 13th annual CREW Concert Under the Stars. It’s coming up soon — February 29, 2020 at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs.  

Proceeds from this year’s Concert will support our efforts to continue developing trails and education programs at our newest trail system, Flint Pen Strand off of Bonita Beach Road. To see your sponsorship money at work, please attend one of our free weekly guided walks (Thursdays through April) to experience the varied and rich environment of this big piece of the CREW Project. It’s a bird watcher’s paradise. We even have a bald eagle who makes regular appearances.  

Many of our sponsors have been supporting this event for years (thank you!) but we always need more sponsors. If you have an environmentally-focused business, this is the perfect chance to showcase your company’s work. Our annual concert is always well attended, offering great dance music and a Silent Eco-Auction featuring unique nature-themed arts and special southwest Florida experiences. 

Sponsors enjoy special perks, including tickets to the VIP Cafe – a reserved area of tables with great food. The VIP Cafe is located near the stage to allow you to enjoy the music of the High Voltage Band.

Here are the perks that come with each level of sponsorship:

$10,000 – Event Naming Sponsor

Top billing on all advertising, social media, website, event program cover and t-shirts, plus a banner on stage. Name announced during  the concert. Seating for 12 guests in the VIP Cafe.

$5,000 – VIP Cafe sponsor

Name on VIP Cafe banner, website, social media, event program and t-shirts. Seating for 10 guests in the VIP Cafe.

$2,500 – Silent Eco-Auction Sponsor

Name on Eco-Auction banner, website, social media, event program and t-shirts. Seating for 8 guests in the VIP Cafe.    

$1,000 – 1K Sponsor

Name on website, social media, event program and t-shirts. Seating for 6 guests in the VIP Cafe.  

$500 – Sponsor

Name on website, social media, event program and t-shirts. Seating for 4 guests in the VIP Cafe.

Enjoy the concert as a sponsor and a VIP! Feel good while you’re doing good. Download a 2020 CREW Concert Sponsor Flyer ( or email for more information on becoming a sponsor. 

CREW Concert Tickets

Why should you give?

You depend on CREW trust staff and volunteers to use your money wisely to provide environmental education for all ages. We take this job seriously and make sure we provide the best field trip experiences to all.  We emphasize the importance of protecting our watershed that we all rely on to provide water to parts of Lee and Collier counties. The CREW lands protect habitat for wildlife and also provides wonderful recreational opportunities.  

Revenue from last year’s CREW Concert helped to fund the Dr. David R. Cooper Education Fund which directly supports our education programs. This year, proceeds from the concert will support our efforts to develop more trails and education programs at our newest trail system, Flint Pen Strand off of Bonita Beach Road. Check out our free guided walks offered every Thursday through April to get a great introduction to this unique ecosystem – home to bald eagles, ospreys, many songbirds and other wildlife.

Have we mentioned how much fun our yearly concerts are?  Attending the concert is a great way to give back while having a great time with friends and family. Dance to the music of the High Voltage Band (a local group), buy some great food from local food vendors, enter a bid for something special in our Silent Eco-Auction and enjoy a night out with friends and family. Think of all you get and all you contribute to CREW for the cost of your ticket

CREW Concert Tickets

Where does my money go?

As a CREW Trust member, you know how much the CREW Land & Water Trust relies on your membership dues and your donations to continue our  work of environmental education, introducing people to our vital 60,000-acre watershed. Because of your generosity, we can continue to offer guided hikes on our trail systems to local elementary schools, FGCU, Ave Maria University, and other special groups. Our “Nature’s Peace” walks are for those with Alzheimer’s and also those with visual impairments so that they may also enjoy the serenity that nature has to offer along our CREW trails.  

On February 29, 2020 (yes, it’s a Leap Year) we will be celebrating our 13th annual “Concert & Silent Eco-Auction” at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs.  Tickets and more information are now available on our website ( for $15; children 12 and under are free to attend. If you wait to buy tickets at the door, the cost will be $20 per person. Sign up early and save $5 per ticket! 

Don’t forget to bring a chair, but leave coolers and pets at home. Food and drink vendors will be available throughout the evening.

SAVE THE DATE: CREW Concert & Silent Eco Auction

Buy Concert Tickets now!

CREW Land & Water Trust will host the 2020 CREW Concert Under the Stars on Saturday, February 29 from 5-9 p.m. at Riverside Park, located at 10450 Reynolds St. in Bonita Springs.

This year’s concert will raise money for our environmental education programs led at the CREW trails. These programs include field trips for all ages from area schools, classes from Florida Gulf Coast University and Nature’s Peace, a program that provides guided walks for people with Alzheimer’s disease and also visually impaired guests. Funds raised at this year’s concert will also go towards developing programs at Flint Pen Strand, the fourth CREW trail system that opened late last year.

The Silent Eco-Auction is a highlight of the fundraiser, offering attendees the opportunity to bid on a variety of nature-based items and experiences. “With over three-dozen eco-items to choose from, there is something for everyone,” noted Barbara Centola, Committee Chair for the CREW Trust Silent Eco-Auction. “People look forward to bidding so much we have to hold onto the bid sheets until the official start time.”

This year we have many new items in addition to old favorites. For the sportsperson, we have two fishing kayaks and a handcrafted fishing rod. For the art enthusiast, we have nature photography by News Press photographer Andrew West and an original oil painting by Ehren Fritz Gerhard titled “Summertime Swamp Walk”. If you’re looking for an experience, bid on the wildflower walk led by Brenda Thomas or the Eco Cruise with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

High Voltage Band returns for this year’s concert, playing everything from Motown’s greatest hits to today’s Top 40 songs. High Voltage Band has played for the NFL Players Association, Panasonic, The Boston Red Sox, Toyota, The Dale Earnhardt Jr. Foundation, Hope for Haiti and more.

The Rotary Club of Bonita Springs will sell wine and beer including craft beer from Momentum Brewhouse. Owner Brian Hahn is working to craft a unique brew in honor of CREW that will be served at the concert. Food vendors Haney’s, Cherie’s Sweet Treats and The Lunch Box will also be on-site.

Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit and enjoy the concert; dogs and outside food and drink will not be permitted.

Sponsorship opportunities are available and include access to the VIP café. General admission tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate; children 12 and under are free.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit

For more information about the concert, silent eco-auction or to schedule interviews, please contact Allison Vincent at

About CREW Land & Water Trust

The CREW Land & Water Trust is a private, nonprofit conservation organization whose mission is to preserve and protect the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW), a 60,000 acre watershed located in Southwest Florida and critical to maintaining the local water supply. The watershed stores and filters water which enhances our local water supply, reduces the risk of flooding in surrounding areas and provides essential wildlife habitat for many species of plants and animals. The CREW Land & Water Trust was founded in 1989 and helps to purchase land, assist with land management and provides quality environmental education programs for all ages. For more information, visit

Story of a CREW Partnership: Lighthouse of Collier

Sometimes it takes a new perspective to appreciate the beauty of a place. Recently, one of our partners, Lighthouse of Collier, Center for Blindness and Vision Loss visited CREW as part of our Nature’s Peace program. They made the adventurous trip to the Bird Rookery Swamp trail for a specialty guided walk for their 20 guests, all of whom have visual impairments. Patiently they unloaded from their bus, white canes in hand, taking in the powerful smell of cypress trees and fresh rainfall. 

The weather was perfect for a walk and our hike leader, Doug Machesney and other CREW Trust volunteers were ready with special sensorial things to do, like listening to the blustery wind blowing through the bald cypress trees and passing around sweet smelling exotic flowers. The shedding cypress needles reminded these astute observers of the seasonal changes taking place. Florida’s subtle fall giving walkers the sensation of autumn leaf piles as they crunched their way along the edges of the boardwalk.   

Everyone enjoyed when Doug pointed out the traces of a bear on the handrail. They each took their time running their fingers over the claw marks engraved deep into the boardwalk handrail. Each person helping the next by slowly guiding hands to the indentations. 

Furthering the challenges of some, several of the participants did not speak English. Fortunately, a leader emerged from the group and self-appointed herself as the translator. She listened attentively to Doug’s stories and quietly translated for her friends. At the close of the hike, while everyone loaded back on the bus, she told me, “I’m forever grateful to the people at Lighthouse of Collier. They’ve changed my life, so I try to do everything I can to help others like me.” 

We are also grateful to Lighthouse of Collier for partnering with us years ago so their clients get the opportunity to enjoy all that nature has to offer them at CREW. We’re also very grateful to YOU for making this Nature’s Peace program and all of our other programs possible.

Thank you sponsors!

Our 2019 annual fundraiser was another huge success this year because of you. A big shout out to our major sponsors: Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A., Hole Montes and EGCSAA. Also, thanks to all of our other sponsors, CREW Trustees and players who supported us on October 25th. 

This year we hosted 82 golfers out on the greens of Old Corkscrew Golf Club. A brief thunderstorm moved through just before our shotgun start, but as Brenda Brooks always says, “it’s all about the water” and everyone took the 10-minute delay to catch up with fellow golfers. With the support of our sponsors and players we were able to raise over $16,000. Your contributions are already being put to good use as our season of programs begins. Thanks to you, our CREW Trust volunteers will continue to maintain and  expand our network of trails for everyone to enjoy. Thanks again for staying involved with the CREW Trust. 

2019 CREW Stanley Hole Golf Tournament

Mark your calendars for the 2019 CREW Stanley Hole Golf Tournament!

Your participation helps support the CREW Land & Water Trust’s mission: to preserve and protect the 60,000-acre Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed through trail expansion and maintenance!

You can become a sponsor now and support public trail access for all, no golf experience needed!

Executive Director, Brenda Brooks

When: Friday, October 25, 2019

Where: Old Corkscrew Golf Club, 17320 Corkscrew Road, Estero, FL 33928

Registration: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Shotgun Start: 1:00 p.m.

Format: Team Scramble

The field is limited to 22 teams (88 players). Please register early to secure your spot.

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