The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)
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!