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.

Alligators and YOU

So many friends of the CREW Land & Water Trust love Bird Rookery Swamp and head there on a regular basis for wildlife viewing. The number one, top-of-the-list animal they are there to see?



For first-time visitors, seeing an alligator seems thrilling and exciting until they almost step on one along the tram/trail or have the unfortunate luck to have their path blocked by a sunning gator. In response to a few calls we’ve received over the last few weeks, we’ve compiled some answers to frequently asked alligator questions.

Why are there so many alligators at Bird Rookery Swamp?

Bird Rookery Swamp is prime amazing fantastic Grade-A alligator habitat. It’s like an alligator gated community. Some of the neighbors keep to themselves, some live in the way back where it’s pretty private, and others like to walk around in their front yards and yell about HOA regulations.

Well, maybe not that last part, but you get the idea.

The CREW Project is 60,000-acres and is first and foremost land preserved for water, and second land preserved for wildlife. And Bird Rookery Swamp does a great job holding water and housing alligators. Who then meet up with other alligators and, well – you know the rest.

Why don’t you have rangers there to warn people about the alligators?

Let’s do a CREW Trust two-sentence refresher:

The CREW Land & Water Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization that is part of the greater CREW Project. We provide environmental education at the three (soon to be four) trail systems within the CREW Project.

What isn’t in that sentence? We – the CREW Trust- do not own the land. There is no fee to access the public lands that are owned and managed by South Florida Water Management District. So, no rangers. We do have FWC law enforcement that patrol within the 60,000-acre project. But, again, no paid rangers.

We do have volunteers who are on the trails during programs and as trail stewards, but with around 40-volunteers, we do not have someone permanently stationed at Bird Rookery Swamp to inform folks about alligators.


Where can I find information about the alligators at Bird Rookery Swamp?

In the parking lot. At the kiosk. At the second kiosk at the end of the shell path before you turn onto the boardwalk. At the talking trail post on the boardwalk. AND at the end of the boardwalk before you step down onto the grassy tram.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, South Florida Water Management District and the CREW Trust have multiple signs, starting in the parking lot, that offer information about alligators and what to do when in their presence.

(That’s kind of important right there- what should HUMANS do in presence of alligators – because humans are walking into the homes of the alligators and not vice versa)

FWC has fantastic alligator resources! Please check a few of these out:

Wildlife Viewing Ethics

Living with Alligators

What should I do if an alligator is laying on the path and blocking my way?

Try saying “Hey Susan move over!”

If that doesn’t work, and it probably won’t even if the alligator is named Susan, you have to either turn around and go back the way you came or have a seat and wait. (This is a good time to remind you to pack water and snacks if you go to Bird Rookery Swamp).

Because of how the Bird Rookery Swamp trail is shaped – a number 9 – there really is only one way out and one way in, so an alligator sunning itself across the tram can create quite a long day for a group of hikers.


You cannot throw rocks at the alligator or poke it with a stick. It is illegal to harass an alligator and this is regulated by FWC Law Enforcement.

Will alligators bite me or my dog or my children?

We do not have any record of such incidents occurring and we would like to keep it that way.

A great resource for answers to this question, and more related to alligators and biting, is the FWC human-alligator incident fact sheet.

A few notable excerpts from that fact sheet:

  • ” Be aware of the possible presence of alligators when in or near fresh or brackish water.
  • Negative alligator encounters may occur when people do not pay close attention to their
    surroundings when working or recreating near water.
  • Closely supervise children when they are playing in or around water
  • Observe and photograph alligators only from a safe distance. Remember, they are an
    important part of Florida’s natural history as well as an integral component of freshwater
  • Leave alligators alone. State law prohibits killing, harassing or possessing alligators
    except under permit.
  • Never remove an alligator from its natural habitat or accept one as a pet.”

And probably the most important take-away from the FWC fact sheet:

The likelihood of a Florida resident being seriously injured during an unprovoked alligator incident in Florida is roughly only one in 3.2 million. 


I do not feel comfortable with the large number of alligators at Bird Rookery Swamp. What can I do about this?

One of the best things about Southwest Florida is that we have so many great places to walk and experience nature. A primitive trail system where humans are directly sharing space with native wildlife may not be for everyone, and we understand that.

If you would like to increase your comfort level, we encourage you to sign up for one of our guided walks with a volunteer naturalist at Bird Rookery Swamp. Or visit the CREW Marsh Trails or Cypress Dome Trails which have significantly less alligators.

If you would prefer to hike someplace that does not share the trail directly with wildlife, we encourage you to explore other trails in the area, such as Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, the Gordon River Greenway and Naples Preserve.

Check out what you can see today at the CREW Marsh Trails!

Guided Hikes at CREW Trails Starting in November

guided hike

Join our excellent volunteers for an entertaining and informative 2.5-hour guided walk on a portion of the Bird Rookery Swamp trails near Naples, FL. Learn the history, see wildlife and enjoy the view.BRS eventbrite pic


  • Wednesdays (9:00 – 11:30 AM) – November through April
  • 1st Sundays (1:30 – 4 PM) – November through April
  • 4th Saturdays (9 – 11:30 AM) – November through August

The Bird Rookery Swamp Trail is part of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (owned by the South Florida Water Management District). It includes a 1500 ft. boardwalk and nearly 12 miles of raised trails on old railroad trams. The cypress/maple swamp is home to wading birds, owls, deer, bear, panther, bobcat, limpkins, and much more.

Register ahead at:


Join CREW Land & Water Trust volunteer and FL Master Naturalist, Dr. David Cooper, for a humorous and informative 2.5 to 3-hour guided walk at the CREW Marsh Hiking Trails. Learn about the watershed as a whole, view wildflowers, animal signs, birds, butterflies, and more.marsh trails for eventbrite

  • 1st and 3rd Tuesday (9:00-12:00) November-April
  • 2nd Saturday  (9:00-12:00) November-April


The CREW Marsh Trails are part of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (owned by the South Florida Water Management District). These trails meander through pine flatwoods, along the edge of the marsh, to oak hammock and popash slough. The Marsh Trails are home to FL black bears, FL panthers, bobcats, limpkins, many songbirds, and more.

Register ahead at:



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