Geocaching at CREW

by Allison Vincent, CREW Trust Communications Director

Geocache Day April 24, 2021 at CREW Marsh Trails, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Register here for this event as space is limited.

Geocaching is an any day, anytime­­ adventure that can take you to amazing and beautiful places or even just to a place in your town that you’ve never been before! That’s the introductory hook of the “What is Geocaching?” video on the Geocaching website,, that captures the excitement and universal enjoyment of Geocaching adventures. The caches at CREW fit neatly into the “amazing and beautiful places” category with 122 active caches!

What is Geocaching you might ask! Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt using GPS-enabled devices to locate your geocache. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. These containers vary greatly in size and appearance. In the field you will see everything from large, metal cases, a fake stump with a hidden compartment, to a coconut with a film canister sized hole drilled out. First thing you need to do is get a general idea of the cache’s size from the cache page then narrow down your search with the location point. When you arrive at your coordinates, put down your GPS device and look around for the cache. Think to yourself, if I were to hide a cache, where would I put it?

Many individuals, families and friends start Geocaching because they like to get out in nature and experience places they would never have seen before with a purpose in mind. Geocaching brings that extra layer of motivation that gets all ages out the door exploring. Often Geocaching includes solving puzzles, searching for clues and answering riddles that challenge you to see your environment in a new way. When you go Geocaching get ready to challenge yourself in a mental exercise, in addition to a physical one! It’s literally active problem solving! Geocaching also lends itself to seeing a place like a local, often embracing insider knowledge of an unknown area. So, get out there, visit new spots like a local and discover incredible places like the CREW trails through fresh eyes!  

Q & A with Pete Corradino AKA JunglePete of Everglades Day Safari

What originally got you into Geocaching?

In 2004, I was working as an environmental educator for the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. I had befriended a man on one of my programs who was an avid hiker and was looking to go on a 4-mile excursion to a half-frozen waterfall. He needed someone to accompany him for safety reasons and so I volunteered. During the 2-mile trek up to the falls he revealed his primary purpose for the hike, but I was sworn to secrecy. I was a bit concerned he was going to push me over the falls, but he turned out to be an active geocacher in the early years of the sport. Here we were, only four years after Geocaching was invented, creating one of only a few thousand geocaches hidden around the world! It’s named “between a rock and a hard place” and was placed in 2001 – just a year after geocaching started and it’s still active! While the idea of finding a hidden container in the woods and logbook to write of your adventure was intriguing, the most important thing to me was that it brought me to this place – Lye Brook Falls and I have this story to retell. It set me off on thousands of adventures in the US, Canada and Ecuador, everyone with their own story!

Do you have any advice for new Geocachers?

Go to events! You’ll meet interesting, weird, goofy, fun, adventurous people and that leads to crazy new adventures too. I’ve met some of my best friends through geocaching including Milla and Dick (Nolehawks) who are like surrogate grandparents to my kids. I would also say enjoy “the numbers”, the statistics that you accumulate over time, but appreciate the experience (good and bad) that comes from finding these hidden treasures.

Tell us your best geocaching story.

During Hurricane Irma we evacuated to Pikeville, Tennessee where my family lives. They brought us out to Fall Creek Falls State Park which has spectacular waterfalls and scenic views along a mountain ridge. There are a few caches in the park, but Piney Creek Falls was my favorite and probably the most dangerous one I have found. I had to cross a swinging bridge that traversed a small chasm. From there my 7-year-old son and I descended to the river, made our way across cold, wet rocks and then removed our socks and shoes so we could make it the rest of the way across the river. Once we had our socks and shoes back on, we climbed 20 feet up a cliff landing where my son sat with my camera taking pictures of me as I climbed another 20 feet straight up above the river to find a cache that was tucked into a rock ledge. It was quite the adrenaline rush and fortunately my son didn’t have to record me plummeting to my death on my birthday while retrieving a cache.

What type of gear works best?

I use my iPad and iPhone which is limited by cell service and battery life. I bring backup charging bricks to keep them charged for long excursions. Tweezers are good to retrieve paper logs that get stuck in the container and replacement paper and plastic baggies are helpful to maintain caches that need some love. 

What makes the CREW trails a great place for geocaches?

The poison ivy! The green briars! The rattlesnakes! I absolutely love the CREW Marsh trails, the CREW Cypress Dome trails and the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trails. We have had so much fun placing over 400 caches over the last 13 years. We can’t wait to put caches out on the CREW Flint Pen Trails! The thing that I love about these trails is I can hike for miles in solitude and each location has its own unique beauty. I love the dew-covered spider webs in the morning, the Zebra Longwings roosting before sunrise, the cypress dome at sunset. I could go on and on but the great thing about the caches of CREW is that it’s an introduction for many people to one of the least known and most beautiful places in Southwest Florida. Once people have visited and found a few caches they want to keep going and explore every nook and cranny including the Wild Coffee Trail, the Pop Ash Trail and even the service roads! I’ve seen bears, painted buntings, armadillos and so much more on those service roads and yes rattlesnakes and poison ivy. 

Why should I come to Geocache Day at CREW?

Attending events is a great way to meet new people who share the same interest in geocaching. It brings together people that might not ordinarily meet and most importantly it brings everyone together to explore! This might be the first time that someone visits the CREW trails, or they may have been out to every event we’ve done since 2009. Either way we are all in good company! 

Geocache Stats!

The very first Geocaching Event was held at CREW on 5/9/2009
12 Events have been held (4 at the CREW Marsh trails, 6 at the CREW Cypress Dome trails, 2 at the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp trail) and one was cancelled due to COVID.

As of Saturday 4/24/21 there will have been
        290 Traditional Caches
        59 Mystery Caches
        21 Letterbox Caches
        12 Event Caches
        10 Multi Caches
        7 Wherigo Caches
        1 Earthcache

As of Saturday 4/24/21 there will be 122 active geocache
       CREW Cypress Dome Trails – 36
       CREW Marsh Trails – 41
        CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Trails – 45

The Event on Saturday will be the 400th cache!

Thanks to the following geocachers who have placed caches over the years at CREW:

Blue Diamonds – Roger Terrel
FLPirate – Roger Primus
JunglePete – Pete Corradino
Junglito – Theo Corradino
Ecuadorable – MaLe Corradino
Lehigh Mafia – Rob & Staci Johnson
Matkat* – Gary Mangan
Nolehawks – Milla and Dick Voellinger
Pilot searcher – Brian Wylie
rbmotmot – Tim Hall
sandbetweenmytoes – Kris Slagle
Team Crime Scene – Kenny Jenkins
The Wench – Jean Primus

Scientists in the Field

Kathleen Smith with Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is the lead wildlife biologist for the CREW WEA.

by Allison Vincent

CREW Trust Communications Director & Volunteer Coordinator

There is a lot of science that happens at CREW. Did you know that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) employs two full time wildlife biologists to perform wildlife monitoring throughout the CREW project? Their research combines in-depth field work, data collection and long-term trend analysis to detect changes over time in animal and plant species because of land management activities.

Photo-monitoring, established at CREW in 2005 with additional sites added since then, is just one of many fascinating projects that take place in the interior lands of CREW. Stationary photo points are in three units of CREW where the Majority of the land management activities take place: Corkscrew Marsh, Cypress Dome Trails, and Flint Pen Strand.

FWC wildlife biologists Kathleen Smith and Lauren Plussa navigate the fire-breaker roads developed by the South Florida Water Management District through CREW Flint Pen Strand.

FWC biologists use a standardized data collection method at each photo point throughout the process. Starting with a map of the photo points, they embark early in the morning to beat the heat and the summer storms. On the route through north Flint Pen Strand, a swamp buggy is needed to reach interior photo points and a pole saw is required to clear and navigate the thick midstory of fast growing Florida foliage.

Lauren Plussa clears the overgrown path for our buggy to pass and for hunt permit holders that may use the same trail during the upcoming hunt season.

There is a lot that goes into photo-monitoring. The most important component involves photographing the vegetation in the exact same spot, twice a year (wet season and dry season) over an extended period of time. For each photo, biologists place the camera on a platform at a fixed height, and then using a 16.5-foot rope, biologists walk a field helper to the end of the rope, placing that helper at the same fixed distance away from the camera in each photo. This field helper holds a sign with the number and cardinal direction of each photo, as well as a vegetation measuring stick that measures the height of the surrounding vegetation. These photos serve as representative snapshots of vegetative changes on the CREW lands over time.

Biologists also use a densiometer which looks like a concave-shaped mirror that reflects the canopy cover above them to determine the density of tree canopy and mark changes in canopy density over time.

After collecting the data they return to the comfort of the office field station to compile the results and compare this year with previously collected data. The post-field work analyses is the more complex and time-consuming part of field work, but it provides a complete picture of the vegetative changes over time on the CREW Management Area

Not a wildlife biologist, but want to make a difference in the conservation? You can collaborate on an array of citizen science projects that contribute invaluable data to our understanding of the world. Here’s a curated list of organizations requesting your help:

  1. SciStarter provides a database of more than 3,000 vetted, searchable projects and events.
  2. NASA’s citizen science projects are collaborations between scientists and interested members of the public.
  3. Citizen Science at NOAA– There are dozens of citizen science projects within NOAA that provide opportunities for people to engage in scientific investigation.
  4. Join in the Smithsonian Research Mission– Depending on your interests, you can help sustain species around the globe and even solve mysteries of the planets and stars!
  5. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission– Citizen science is a smart, collaborative strategy that enhances the FWC’s ability to conserve Florida’s diversity of fish and wildlife species and their habitats.
  6. Nature’s Notebook – Nature’s Notebook is an off-the-shelf program appropriate for scientists and non-scientists alike, engaging observers across the nation to collect phenology observations on both plants and animals.
  7. Globe at Night – Globe at Night is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure & submit their night sky brightness observations.
  8. Collect Weather Data – CoCoRaHS (pronounced KO-ko-rozz) is a grassroots volunteer network of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow) in their local communities.
  9. BioBlitz – A BioBlitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. 
  10. Christmas Bird Count (CBC) – participate in the largest and longest citizen science count of birds in the world. 
  11. iNaturalist – Love learning about the outdoor world? Let iNaturalist help you identify species while also contributing to a worldwide collection of scientific observations.
  12. IveGot1 – Help FWC track and manage the populations of nonnative and invasive species by reporting sightings with photos via app, phone call, or online report.

High Voltage Band at the CREW Concert

Get ready to DANCE!

Celebrate the biggest night of the year for the CREW Trust – the CREW Concert & Silent Eco-Auction – at Riverside Park in Bonita Springs from 5 to 9 pm on February 29, 2020. 

Sure, the concert is a fundraiser for our environmental non-profit organization – but it’s so much more. It’s a chance for everyone to have a great night out while helping to protect our watershed.    

Have you had a chance to dance lately? Really let your hair down?  Providing the music and the energy for the evening is the HIGH VOLTAGE BAND, an in-demand local group with a wide repertoire. There’s music for all of us, from Motown to jazz to funk to current hits. Lots of irresistible guitar, keyboard, and saxophone music highlighted by compelling vocals.

Take a look at this video of the band in action:

If that’s not enough for you, check out the HIGH VOLTAGE BAND’s YouTube channel. See why this group gets rave reviews – and why we have chosen it as our featured concert performer for several years. 

Join us for the concert. We dare you not to dance!  

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. 

Forest Bathing in CREW’s Bird Rookery Swamp

Forest bathing is widely practiced for health reasons. The concept is simple:  to surround yourself in nature for the purpose of absorbing the healing properties of the forest. Adherents claim that it can lower blood pressure, slow the heart rate and reduce the levels of harmful hormones such as cortisol. Overall it has a calming effect.

But does it really work or is it the product of someone’s imagination? Research shows that the effects of forest bathing are real and demonstrable. A Russian scientist began to study forest bathing in the 1920’s, working on the theory that the “aromas of the forest” strengthen our immune systems. Subsequent study has shown that trees emit an organic, antimicrobial volatile compound that our bodies absorb and which reduces inflammation and helps us fight off germs.

So how to practice forest bathing? First, find a peaceful wooded area where you can linger for 20 minutes daily. When you enter that quiet forest, walk slowly and stop often, listening and observing. This is not a time for your daily jog – vigorous exercise defeats the purpose. Instead immerse your senses in the sights and sounds of nature while you’re absorbing that healthy aroma of the forest. The nearby presence of water enhances the effect.

Of interest to those of us who live in southwest Florida, modern research has determined that the trees which give us the greatest benefits in forest bathing are all varieties of cypress trees. CREW’s Bird Rookery Swamp Trail is an ideal place to practice forest bathing. Surrounded by cypress trees and plenty of water, you leave feeling refreshed.     

By a CREW Trust Volunteer

Hurricane Dorian

All CREW Trails closed for Hurricane Dorian until further notice.

CREW trails are temporarily closed due to emergency conditions from Hurricane Dorian. The Temporary closure of South Florida Water Management District managed lands is in effect until further notice.

SFWMD Order No. 2019-052-DAO

Effective: August 30, 2019, 5:00 p.m.

40E-& F.A.C. Public Use Rule

South Florida Water Management District


Good Morning,

Bottom Line:

Hurricane Dorian is forecast to be a major hurricane as it approaches the Florida Peninsula late this weekend into early next week


▪ Potential for an EXTREME Hurricane Wind & Water Event for parts of the Florida Peninsula
▪ This is a serious and life-threatening situation

▪ Small changes to the forecast can mean big differences in impacts at any given location

Any Questions: If you have any specific questions or want additional coordination please give us a call 305-229-4525


·  NWS Miami/South Florida Phone Number: (305) 229-4525

·  NWS Miami/South Florida Webpage:

·  South Florida Hazardous Weather Outlook:

·  NWS Miami/South Florida Tropical Webpage

·  National Hurricane Center Webpage:

·  Hourly Forecasts (Click Your Location):

·  NWS Miami/South Florida Local AHPS Page:

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact our office at the phone numbers listed in the Resources section above.

Larry Kelly

National Weather Service – Miami/South Florida

Twitter: @NWSMiami

Facebook: NWSMiami

FWC Panther Research

The CREW project is built on partnerships and The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) would like your help. Public information about the research is included with the re-posted request below. If you have any information please follow the instructions provided by the FWC. Thank you for your help! 

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

FWC asks public to help document disorder impacting panthers 

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission sent this bulletin at 08/19/2019 02:24 PM EDT

Aug. 19, 2019

Suggested Tweet: Help @MyFWC investigate condition impacting #Florida #panthers by sending videos of impacted animals.

FWC asks public to help document disorder impacting panthers 

The FWC is investigating a disorder detected in some Florida panthers and bobcats. All the affected animals have exhibited some degree of walking abnormally or difficulty coordinating their back legs.

As of August 2019, the FWC has confirmed neurological damage in one panther and one bobcat. Additionally, trail camera footage has captured eight panthers (mostly kittens) and one adult bobcat displaying varying degrees of this condition. Videos of affected cats were collected from multiple locations in Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties, and at least one panther photographed in Charlotte County could also have been affected. The FWC has been reviewing videos and photographs from other areas occupied by panthers but to date the condition appears to be localized as it is only documented in three general areas.

“While the number of animals exhibiting these symptoms is relatively few, we are increasing monitoring efforts to determine the full scope of the issue.” said Gil McRae, director of FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “Numerous diseases and possible causes have been ruled out; a definitive cause has not yet been determined. We’re working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a wide array of experts from around the world to determine what is causing this condition.”

The FWC is testing for various potential toxins, including neurotoxic rodenticide (rat pesticide), as well as infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies.

The public can help with this investigation by submitting trail camera footage or other videos that happen to capture animals that appear to have a problem with their rear legs. Files less than 10MB can be uploaded to our panther sighting webpage at If you have larger files, please contact the FWC at

Florida panthers are an endangered species native to Florida. To learn more about panthers, visit

Florida residents can support panther conservation efforts by purchasing a “Protect the Panther” license plate at Fees from license plate sales are the primary funding source for the FWC’s research and management of Florida panthers. People can also help panthers by donating to the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida. Visit

To report dead or injured panthers, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.

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re-post: The Impact of Social Media


Brian Beckner Native Bird Boxes

(Quickly, before you read, some of the functions work better on our website here:

You all have taken some incredible photos over the past year. When you share your personal moments on the trail, a larger audience of folks get a view of the watershed, wildlife, and recreational opportunities throughout the CREW project. Thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us!

We hope these magnificent moments caught on camera inspire folks to support, visit, and explore the CREW trails, like the photographers before them!

Number 5

1,043 People Reached

Andrew West, multimedia journalist at The News-Press (Fort Myers and Cape Coral), captures incredible wildlife photos through his tireless efforts in the field.

Number 4

1,801 People Reached

A look at the iconic Swallow-tailed Kite by Anne Reed.

Number 3

2,772 People Reached

A Black bear at Bird Rookery Swamp interrupts a workout for some high-school cross country runners. The encounter is a great example of what to do when you see a bear on the trail.” Your Guide to the Florida Black Bear

Number 2

2,896 People Reached

Reporting live from the CREW turkey mixer.

Number 1

4,541 People Reached

Thank you to Dick Brewer for this incredible photo capture. And, thank you to our Facebook Friends Conservation Collier, Collier County Parks & Recreation and Jenny’s Eco Everglades Wilderness Tours for helping us reach a larger audience.

Thanks for sharing

The photos you share tell a rich story, communicating the kind of impact we can all play in wildlife conservation. With a camera, visitors can safely view wildlife behavior in their natural habitats and learn to appreciate their existence. When wildlife is given the space needed to live out their natural lives, we all benefit.

These days social media plays a large role in the effort to help conserving wildlife. Reaching a large audience creates a link between the individuals that frequent the trails with those that view it from a distance. The bridge that is crossed has a lasting impact, providing us a sense of place in nature.

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