CREW and You, part 5 and 6: WHY and HOW

This is part 5 and 6 of our six-part series on the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How of the CREW Trust.

The trestle bridge at Bird Rookery Swamp

In our previous posts, we’ve talked about the 60,000-acre Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) and the role of the CREW Land & Water Trust.

Our nonprofit is dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of the water resources and natural communities in and around CREW.

We do this through assisting with funding and land acquisition and through environmental education.

At the heart of our WHY is this: we care passionately about the water, the land, and the flora and fauna within the watershed.

We care.

Part of protecting anything, from land to water to animals, is getting people to care. We know that, when someone is out on the trails and learns about how a drop of water moves through the watershed and is filtered by the 5,000-acre sawgrass marsh and helps fill our aquifer, we are helping them care about where their water comes from.

When a student learns about the palmetto berries and the bears that feed on them, they have an understanding of why we protect both the berry and the bear and how they (including the human) are all connected in our ecosystem.

Because we know that, when someone cares, they then ask HOW. How can they be part of protecting and preserving water? How can they work towards making sure that our future generations have clean water to drink?

How can they help protect endangered species like the Florida Panther?

game camera image by Tom Mortenson

All of us here at CREW Land & Water Trust – from staff to interns to volunteers and Trustees – we are all part of this nonprofit because at some time, we learned, then cared, then felt called to do something.

And if you have attended a program and learned about the watershed, or wandered the trails and watched a swallow-tailed kite soar overhead, you probably care, too. You are part of our why, and you can be part of our how.

Become a member. Our members help support our environmental education programs, not just through their membership dues, but also through attending our programs as paid participants.

Volunteer. Our volunteers do everything, from trail maintenance and exotic plant removal to assisting with field trips and leading guided walks. We simply could not educate the over 49,000 people who visited the CREW Trails or participated in a CREW Trust program last year without our volunteers.

The reality is, no one person started the CREW Project, and no one person founded the CREW Land & Water Trust. It took a few people caring a lot to start the process of acquiring and preserving land within the 60,000-acre border. Their WHY led to their HOW and it’s up to us to continue and carry the passion they had 30 years ago into the years to come.

Our season review: a letter from the Executive Director

Flint Pen Strand – photo by Klaus Harvey

As our weather turns warmer and rainy season is on the horizon, I find myself reflecting on this past season.

This year the CREW Trust celebrates its 30th anniversary. So much has been accomplished in that time frame, with much more yet to be completed. Of the 60,000-acres within the borders of the watershed, almost 55,000-acres within the Corkscrew Regoinal Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) have been acquired. We continue to pursue our mission of preserving and protecting water, our most valuable natural resource, through working with our partners, specifically Lee County’s Conservation 20/20 program and Collier County’s Conservation Collier.

Education is a key component of ensuring that generations today and those that follow will connect with the land and the wildlife within the CREW Project borders and understand the value of the watershed. We are thankful for the visitors, residents, schools and CREW Trust members who participated in this season’s programs and visited the four trail systems.

This season saw the opening of the fourth and final CREW Project trail system – Flint Pen Strand. Our volunteers have worked for several years to create and mark the first two trails and continue to work on additional trails. Our Board of Trustees have been key players in this process through their work behind the scenes to assist the CREW Trust and our partners in making this exceptional area open to the public.

I have spent time over the last few weeks exploring the yellow loop in Flint Pen Strand. As I stood amidst the dwarf cypress and blooming bladderwort north of Kehl Canal, I thought of my dear friend Jim Goodwin and the hours he put into making Flint Pen Strand a reality. There is no other place in CREW like it, and I’m thankful to our volunteers, members, Board of Trustees and friends who have helped open this fourth trail system so we can all share in the beauty of the watershed.

Summer is our time to plan for next season, and I look forward to seeing you on the trails and thank you for continuing to support the CREW Trust and share in the remarkable beauty that is the CREW Project.

Brenda Brooks

Executive Director

CREW Land & Water Trust

CREW Trust Executive Director Brenda Brooks