Consider a “Wet Walk”

By Allison Vincent, CREW Trust Communications Director

Hiking out on the CREW trails can have a transformative effect, especially during the rainy season. Traversing wet trails evokes something deep within us, an urge to take the road less travelled, to walk quietly in the woods hearing the twigs snap underfoot.

Perhaps it’s some childhood nostalgia that transfixes us. Given the chance to have uninterrupted time in a wild place filled with trees, pools of water, and hidden places can fine tune the ear to the sound of animal footsteps or the wings of a bird.

Even still, some hikers avoid the trails during the rainy season, but why? Let go of having dry shoes and enjoy the cool clear puddles after a rain storm or wade into the tannin-rich tea-colored water on a hot day! Once you make your first satisfying splash there is no turning back!

Another highlight of the rainy season is finding animal tracks in the mud. Our game camera footage and years of wildlife monitoring have shown that many crepuscular creatures are most active in the early dawn and twilight hours before dusk.

Many of the wildlife that call CREW home are elusive but like us all, leave footprints behind. So remember next time you’re on the trail, there is a chance you are walking the same path a wild creature strolled a few hours earlier. Check in the mud, you may catch the outline of a print!

Trees – why do we love them?

photo by Anthony Eugenio

Volunteer Perspective Series

Written by Nan Mattingly

          In the 60,000-acre Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) Project, you’ll find a wide variety of trees. The stars of the show are bald cypresses that dominate Bird Rookery Swamp and slash pines found throughout the CREW Project, as well as red maples that provide vivid color to the predominantly green and brown landscape. Of course, you’ll also see many sabal (or cabbage) palms, our state tree. All of the trees in CREW help filter and protect the water that soaks into the aquifer that spans Lee and Collier counties. This aquifer stores the water that we need for just about every aspect of life in southwest Florida.

          Aside from their contribution to our vital water supply, trees in the CREW Project also provide a myriad of less visible services that enrich and improve our environment. Some of those services are:

  • Natural air conditioning: when you walk under a canopy of mature trees (which you’ll find in all four CREW trail systems) you immediately notice a drop in temperature, as much as six to eight degrees. That’s a real gift in the summer months. (Trees strategically planted to shade your house can lower your electric bill by as much as 15 %.)
  • Habitat for wildlife: bird watchers can delight in the variety of birds on show among the trees, from colorful songbirds to impressive raptors (hawks, vultures, crested caracaras, etc.) to charming wading birds such as great blue herons, ibises, and egrets. CREW lands also attract fascinating seasonal visitors such as swallow-tailed kites and wood storks. Florida panthers, bears, bobcats and others rely on heavily forested areas for concealment of their dens and for hunting grounds. And if you see a mature tree that is missing a long chunk of its bark, bears may have been using that tree to scratch their backs.        
  • Capture and storage of carbon dioxide emissions: trees are the most efficient carbon capture machines in the world. Through photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide and store it in their leaves, stems and roots. That carbon provides some of the energy that trees need to grow and leaf out. Carbon dioxide traps heat in the environment, so the trees in CREW can help lower the temperature in surrounding areas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all the vegetation in the U.S. (especially trees) absorbed 11 % of carbon emissions in 2017.         
  • Rich, refreshing environment for hikers: CREW offers four trail systems, all of which feature some trails that are lined and shaded by mature trees. When you’ve hiked deep into the woods, the lush, cool and green atmosphere created by trees is more invigorating than a session at the gym and more reassuring than a session with a therapist.

          All of these practical reasons for appreciating trees are sensible and important. But it may be the natural grace and beauty of trees that most attracts us to them.

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

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