Photo Scavenger Hunt

The April Edition

During the CREW trails closure we asked CREW Trust Facebook fans to send in their best photos from before the closure. We called it the CREW Trust Photo Scavenger Hunt and the response was impressive.


1.) Swallow-tailed Kite, Elanoides forficatus

1st place photo from category one of our #stayathome contest is another Swallow-tailed Kite! This one comes to us from Dick Brewer. Thank you for the beautiful mom and chicks photo!

Swallow-tailed kites come to us from South America midwinter to nest. The adults and juveniles migrate back separately in late summer. Keep an eye out in late summer for large flocks of these birds.

photo by Dick Brewer

2nd place winner for our first category of the #stayathome photo contest – Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) by Anthony Eugenio. Thank you Anthony for your beautiful submission!

photo by Anthony Eugenio

2.) Native Florida wildflower

1st place in category two of our #stayathome contest – St. John’s Wort/Hypericum by Brenda Thomas, CREW Trustee! Thanks for this beauty, Brenda!

You may have heard of St. John’s Wort as a medicinal remedy. We don’t recommend picking these flowers since they are in their raw form and you cannot legally collect from CREW.

photo by Brenda Thomas

2nd place in category two of our #stayathome photo contest. Photo by CREW Volunteer Dick Brewer

photo by Dick Brewer

3.) Red-headed Woodpecker, Melanerpes erythrocephalus

1st place in category 3 of our #stayathome contest is Morris Gieselman with the Red-headed woodpecker! Beautiful shot, Morris!

photo by Morris Geiselman

2nd place in category 3 of our #stayathome photo contest is this Red-headed woodpecker by CREW Trust volunteer, Dick Brewer! What a great catch (for you and the woodpecker)!

photo by Dick Brewer

4.) Animal track

1st place in our #stayathome contest is an alligator track from CREW Bird Rookery Swamp by Patty Pushcar! If you have out of town guests interested in seeing a real and wild American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), CREW Bird Rookery Swamp is the place!

2nd place in our #stayathome contest is Anthony Eugenio with another American Alligator Track from the CREW Bird Rookery Swamp Trail! Thanks, Anthony, for sharing this cool photo!

photo by Anthony Eugenio

5.) An arthropod

1st place in our #stayathome contest is this species interaction between a spider and raccoon. Congrats, Brenda Centenaro Stelzer, for capturing such a neat photo at CREW Bird Rookery Swamp.

photo by Brenda Stelzer

2nd place in our #stayathome contest comes from Anthony Eugenio of a common arthropod, the Lubber Grasshopper. If you’re seeing them on the trails this time of year, there are smaller, black, with an orange, red or yellow line running from their face to their tail.

photo by Anthony Eugenio

6.) CREW at night from one of the two campsites

1st place in our #stayathome contest comes from a former FWC biologist and current Conservation Collier Environmental Specialist, Molly DuVall at our CREW Cypress Dome Trail Gate 3 Campsite. While we miss Molly, we appreciate that she still enjoys the trails and camping at CREW in her free time!

photo by Molly DuVall

2nd place of our #stayathome contest comes from Anthony Eugenio at our CREW Marsh Trail Gate 5 Campsite. Campsites are still not open, but when available, they are enjoyed one group at a time. Primitive camping under the stars with only a fire ring and picnic table. Nature at its best!

photo by Anthony Eugenio

7.) Sunrise or sunset from one of the four trails

1st place in our #stayathome contest is a sunrise and moonset over CREW Flint Pen Strand by John Lane. Spectacular, John! CREW Flint Pen Strand is our newest trial system and the only one in Lee County.

photo by John Lane

2nd place in our #stayathome contest comes from CREW Trust volunteer, Dick Brewer at CREW Flint Pen Strand. Dick is a wealth of knowledge and has contributed significantly to the educational resources available on our website. We cannot succeed in the work we do without volunteers like Dick.

photo by Dick Brewer

8.) Equestrian activities at CREW Flint Pen Strand or CREW Dome Trails

1st place in our #stayathome contest comes from Jennifer Law at CREW Flint Pen Strand Trails. Did you know that horseback riding is available at CREW Flint Pen Strand and CREW Cypress Dome Trails? You’ll still need a free special use license from the South Florida Water Management District, but it is well worth it based on the number of equestrians using the trails. Thank you, Jennifer!

photo by Jennifer Law

2nd place in our #stayathome contest comes from Dick Brewer at CREW Flint Pen Strand Trails. You don’t have to be a horseback rider to appreciate the sport of human and animal enjoying a healthy dose of exercise in nature!

photo by Dick Brewer

9.) Bicycling with friends at one of the three CREW trails

1st and 2nd place in our #stayathome contest go to Dick Brewer! Bicycle riding the 3 of our 4 trails, especially CREW Bird Rookery Swamp, is a favorite activity for many of our volunteers and visitors. The other 2 trails available for bicycling are CREW Cypress Dome and CREW Flint Pen Strand. 

10.) Walking your leashed pet at one of the four CREW trails

1st place in our #stayathome contest comes from Cash and Molly! Dog walking is encouraged at all 4 of our trails as long as they are on a short (6’) leash – the safest option for you, your dog, and wildlife!

photo by Molly DuVall

2nd place in our #stayathome contest comes from John Lane at the CREW Marsh Trails. We are so happy to see our furry friends and their owners using the trails safely. Protect your pets while at home and on the trails.

photo by John Lane

Like our Facebook page @CREWtrust if you’re interested in future events.

All CREW Trails OPEN- April 29, 2020

You’ve all waited patiently for your favorite CREW trails to reopen. Well, the day has arrived!

You can immediately head out to the trails to enjoy the fresh air at all four CREW trail systems: Bird Rookery Swamp Trail, CREW Marsh Trails, Cypress Dome Trails and Flint Pen Strand Trails.

Please remember we all need to practice social distancing, even on the trails.

Consider the “bottleneck” areas, like the parking lot or boardwalks as spaces to be especially considerate of others space.

We will continue to update our media pages as we learn more from the South Florida Water Management District.

Sprucing Up the CREW Trails

Before the trail closure on April 4th, CREW Trust staff, volunteers, and Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) students were out in full force finishing up some big projects during the final cool months. 

Several projects include the Wild Coffee Trail/White Trail revitalization at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails, the installation of new green and yellow post trail markers at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails, widening the Popash Trail at the CREW Marsh Trails, and an Adopt-A-Road cleanup along Corkscrew Rd. 

Our CREW trails consistently undergo huge improvements thanks to our dedicated volunteers and students that know how to complete a project from start to finish. 

Currently, trails are closed to the public and CREW Trust volunteers, but this does not mean that the volunteers have lost their enthusiasm. They have found many creative ways to help throughout the Florida #stayathome order!

Partner Spotlight

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)

SFWMD Prescribed Fire at CREW Cypress Dome Trail

You may already know the general story of the CREW Project. In 1989, a conservation minded group of go-getters banded together to protect the land that makes up the CREW Project today. What you may not know is how the land was chosen and how the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) emerged as the primary land owner and land manager of the CREW Project’s 60,000 acres.

In the 1980s, after several years of drought caused wells to go dry, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners applied to the state Save Our Rivers Program land acquisition program (later becoming the Conservation and Recreational Lands Program (CARL) and now known as Florida Forever), asking the state to purchase Flint Pen Strand for a water recharge area to ensure a better water supply for southern Lee County. 

At the same time, National Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida also asked the state to purchase Bird Rookery Swamp to protect the southern and western edges of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. 

The state looked at both applications and noticed that the two parcels of land were near each other. They studied the area further, discovered there was an entire undisturbed watershed system and determined that the whole system needed to be protected.

Parcel by parcel, the National Audubon Society, Lee and Collier counties, and the state began acquiring parcels within the watershed. The state turned over land management duties to the SFWMD after acquisition. The SFWMD manages their lands to support continued or improved water flow for the benefit of Lee and Collier County citizens.

It is truly a cooperative effort and the key to our success has been partners like the SFWMD. The CREW Trust thanks you!

All CREW Trails Closed Effective April 4th

April 3, 2020

As part of ongoing efforts to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 and protect public safety, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will temporarily close the all CREW trails, effective at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

Closure includes Bird Rookery Swamp, Flint Pen Strand, Cypress Dome and CREW Marsh trails.

The District follows the lead of local governments that have issued Safer at Home orders in their communities and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health.

Read the official post from South Florida Water Management District blog:

All CREW Trails are STILL OPEN

Check our website for daily updates regarding trail status

We want everyone to know that all four of the CREW trail systems- Bird Rookery Swamp, Flint Pen Strand, Cypress Dome Trail, and CREW Marsh Trails are all currently open. We are updating our website daily with current information regarding their status. So get out to the trails soon, just be sure to keep a 6-foot distance between yourself and others. As always, your donations and support are greatly appreciated, so bring a few extra bucks to drop in the donation box on the trails. Stay well everyone!

Trails are Open

All CREW trails are currently open for use. We will update you if the South Florida Water Management District closes down the trail systems or halts any public programs. Thank you for supporting the CREW Trust.

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

Hiking at CREW: A comparison of Second graders and college-aged students.

Purely by chance a series of college hikes, and second grade field trips, overlapped in the same week, giving this observer a first-hand look at some of the timeless similarities and funny differences between these two age groups.

The bus dismount goes about the same for both groups. Some faces clearly display their inner thoughts, that they actually have no idea they were going for a hike in the middle of a 60,000 acre watershed. Quickly though they are reassured by the guide that they are in good hands and that staff know the way back to the bus. As the students all breath in the fresh air, they generally relax and enjoy the introduction.

As the hike meanders through the diverse yet intertwined ecosystems, personalities start to emerge. This is where it gets interesting.

College students ask questions and make observations that are quite cerebral in nature, where as the second grader is more hands-on and scientific in their approach:

  • Most second graders want to pick up and touch everything. They get muddy, and when they’re hot, jump in a puddle or pour water on their heads. 
  • Whereas most college students wouldn’t volunteer pick up an insect or touch soil samples, even if it was directly handed to them.

The talented teachers and experienced CREW Trust staff teach the perspective groups about a range of topics from observational details about wildlife and plant species to the benefits of prescribed burns, water quality in Florida aquifers, and what exactly is a Cypress Dome. 

  • The second grader often asks authentic, unprovoked, and funny rhetorical questions about the immediate world around them.
  • A college student tends to represent a broader knowledge and asks worldly and provocative questions, leading to some interesting discussions with classmates.
Stephanie Bravo holds a wild blueberry, while expertly warning the students to never eat what you find on the trail.

Guide says: Guess who likes eating these berries?

Students: BEARS!!

Concerned student asks: What do I do if I see a bear?

Guide responds: Well, first of all you probably won’t. But if you do know you’re lucky. Then look big and walk away slowly. You can wait until it leaves and continue your hike. Oh, and hike with a parent or friend.

Florida summer is particularly hot and buggy, but staff points out it’s also the time of year we see water-loving flowers in abundance and say goodbye the youngest Swallow-tailed Kites migrating to South America. The point of all this is to see these things first hand, to push personal boundaries and make a connection with the wild spaces around us. 

  • Second graders will apply their experience in the classroom and start to connect the bigger picture of watersheds and wildlife habitats to conservation projects.
  • College students may give back, volunteer, or spread the word to friends.

Getting back on the bus, regardless of the age group, students walk away with an awareness of the land and the role they can choose to play through conservation.

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.

%d bloggers like this: