2021 Year in Review at CREW

River otter at CREW Flint Pen Strand

The CREW trails saw 51,664 people in 2021

Once in a lifetime panther pictures taken by guests at CREW Bird Rookery Swamp

Welcomed back third-graders, for the first time since 2019!

Florida Gulf Coast University students volunteered 2,012 hours

CREW Trust volunteers gave 4,425 hours in service

The NEW Purple Trail opened at CREW Flint Pen Strand

CREW Trust fundraiser began, Annual Trail Sponsors – look for signs at all trailheads

CREW Concert: Know Before You Go

Just a Few Days Until the CREW Concert!

Got your tickets? Shined your dancing shoes? Made a date with your significant other or family for this special occasion? Great! We look forward to seeing everyone at Riverside Park! 

Before you go, here’s a review of event details to help you plan a terrific night out.

1. Concert details

Location: Riverside Park, 10450 Reynolds Street, Bonita Springs

Date and time: Saturday February 29, 2020, 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Schedule of concert events:

5:00 p.m.  Gates open

5:30 p.m. Silent Eco-Auction opens

5:30 p.m. Welcome by CREW Trust Team

5:40 p.m. High Voltage Band hits the stage

8:15 p.m. Silent Eco-Auction closes

8:30-9:15 p.m. Pick up and pay for Silent Auction items

9:00 p.m. Concert ends

2. Tickets

Buy them at CREWtrust.org in advance and save $5 over the price at the door. Adults pay $15 online or $20 at the door. Children under 12 enter free.  

Insider tip: Until noon on the day of the concert, tickets are $15 online-only.

3. Food and drink

Sandwiches, salads, barbecue and cupcakes will be available from Haney’s Cafe and Cherie’s Sweet Treats & The Lunch Box. The Rotary Club of Bonita Springs will again sell wine and beer and feature a specialty craft beer from Momentum Brewhouse. For more information about our vendors read through the Food Blog here

4. General suggestions

Please bring: Chairs or blankets to sit on; the kids (remember, no charge for kids under 12); and cash and/or credit cards to buy food and drink.

Please don’t bring: outside food and drink; or animals. 

5. Silent Eco-Auction

Preview the many unique and exciting items and experiences available at our Silent Eco-Auction here. Or you can walk through the Auction space during the concert and see what inspires you. 

To bid on an item or an adventure, write your name, phone number and the amount of your bid on the bid sheets. If you absolutely, positively want to own a particular piece of artwork or take home tickets to a unique outdoor adventure, enter the “Buy It Now” price. Bidding is closed at 8:15 p.m. Winners will be announced on a large sign near the Silent Auction area. Items must be paid for and picked up between 8:30 and 9:15 p.m.

6. Parking

Parking at the concert is free. Volunteers in bright blue t-shirts will direct you to available parking spaces. A limited number of handicap parking spaces will be available.    

7. VIP Cafe

Sponsors of the concert are given admission to the VIP Cafe as one way of thanking them for their generous support. The VIP Cafe is sold out, so it will not be possible to purchase seats on the night of the concert. If you’re interested in sponsoring the 2021 concert, please contact Brenda (brenda@CREWtrust.org).     

8. Proceeds

The annual “CREW Concert & Silent Eco-Auction” is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the CREW Land & Water Trust, which provides environmental education for all ages. The CREW Project is a 60,000-acre watershed spanning Lee and Collier counties which provides clean water for area residents and visitors, habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities. The money we earn with our annual concert helps us to provide environmental education to all ages. 

Thank you and let’s rock!

You won’t believe what the CREW Trust did this year?

The CREW Land and Water Trust has had a spectacular year. More people visited our trails than ever before. Our educational programs were more numerous and reached more people. Additional land was put into preservation. The Southern Critical CREW project was launched. Fundraising was very successful. And, we owe it all to our CREW Trust members and volunteers.IMG_6542

Education is a major part of preserving and protecting the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. This past season, 45,118 visited CREW trails or participated in school field trips, guided walks or seminars. All of these activities are made possible by generous contributions, memberships dues, and fundraising such as the CREW Stanley Hole Golf Tournament  and the Annual CREW Concert and Silent Eco-Auction.wide shot 2016 concert by dick (2)

We couldn’t carry out our mission without our largest fundraiser, the CREW Concert & Silent Eco-Auction. Over 400 people attended to help us raise over $29,000 for our on-going environmental education programs.This event would not be possible if it wasn’t for our amazing generous sponsors. If you would like to join in on the fun this upcoming year then save the date- February 18, 2017 for the CREW Concert & Silent Eco-Auction. Help us by becoming a sponsor or donating a unique eco-auction item.

The CREW Trust Land Acquisition committegargulioe along with Florida Forever assisted the South Florida Water Management District in the purchase of  619.93 acres of land adjacent to Bird Rookery swamp along Immokalee Road in Naples. In addition, the Southern Critical CREW project at Flint Pen Strand began the long process of restoring 4150 acres near the end of Bonita Beach Road (see picture below) . In less than two years, this water restoration project will yield many miles of additional trails and recreational opportunities.flint pen

We wouldn’t be able to do all this fantastic work without the help of our CREW Trust volunteers. Our volunteers donated over 3,427 hours of their time this past season. Our volunteers help lead hikes, develop programs, create marketing materials, help remove exotic invasive plants, rebuild boardwalks, and much more. Our members and volunteers make all of these accomplishments possible. The members provide sustainable financial support and our volunteers provide the horsepower to get the job done. Together, our members, volunteers, staff and Trustees are the beating heart  of the CREW Trust. 


Take A Child Outside Week

Take a Child Outside Week-group of students on the CREW trails

 September 24—September 30 Annually

 ” Take A Child Outside is a  program designed to encourage children and adults to spend time together outdoors. By giving parents, grandparents and teachers information on outdoor
activities and places to go, our goal is to help children develop a better understanding and appreciation of the environment and an enthusiasm for exploring the natural world.”- http://www.takeachildoutside.org/


IMG_0273Get out to CREW :

CREW offers three different trail systems that
you can explore. The CREW Marsh Trails offers a scenic tour around Southwest Florida’s premier watershed. The Cypress Dome Trails provides a peak into the vast world of Cypress Domes, and is a great place for fall wildflowers. Bird Rookery Swamp is a 12-mile loop full of wildlife and wonders. Be prepared to get wet, and have fun. Getting children outdoors helps them not only connect to the natural world, but helps them focus in school and has shown to reduce rates of obesity. So get involved and take a child out doors!

For more information visit: http://leef-florida.org/net/calendar/details.aspx?s=74621.0.0.37432&dateid=8397


ACT NOW- Upcoming CREW Events

Pine lily

CREW kicks off this season with three great Saturday events:

Fungi/Mushroom Hunt with Ben “Mykes logos” Dion- September 26th 

Ben Dion leads mushroom walkThis walk will feature an in-depth introduction into the world of fungi, a discussion about fungi and their roles at CREW, and hands-on mushroom hunting and field identification. It takes place at the CREW Marsh Trails off Corkscrew Road. Benjamin Dion is the founder of the Southwest Florida Mycological Society. Known as “Mykes logos” in the mushroom world, Dion is a local expert on the identification, use, and ecological role of various fungi in the Southwest Florida area.

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fungimushroom-hunt-with-ben-mykes-logos-dion-


Fall Wildflower Walk with Brenda Thomas- October 3rd 

Join FGCU instructor and wildflower expert Brenda Thomas for this fabulous walk to identify fall-blooming flowers and grasses along the CREW Marsh Trails. The fall flowers are always spectacular after the wet growing season of summer. This is your chance to learn from someone whose passion for plants is unsurpassed!Pine lily

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fall-wildflower-walk-with-brenda-thomas-registration-18247392442




Florida’s Fabulous Spiders: A CREW Strolling Science Seminar- October 10th 

 This is CREW’s first Strolling Science Seminar- We are starting off the season with one of the top Spider Specialist, Dr. G.B. Edwards.

Do you know how many types of spiders are in the Florida and in world?  Do you know what the role of spiders are in nature?  Can you identify the few types of spiders that are medically important?  Do you know how to safely catch and release spiders in the home?  If the answer to any of these questions is NO, then this  program is for you.

We will go on a hike, looking for different kinds of spiders in their natural habitat.  In the fall, we should find many large orbweavers, but many other types of spiders as well.  Participants are encouraged to take photos, and in some cases, feed the spiders to observe their prey-capture behavior.  We will discuss do’s and don’ts of handling spiders!  Get all your questions about spiders answered!

A View of Bird Rookery Swamp- May 2, 2015

Below are first hand observations from our volunteer Dick Brewer. Who does weekly visits to Bird Rookery Swamp and very week sends us incredible stories of the magical 12 mile loop. If you would like to see more of his observations visit: http://www.dickbrewer.org/CREW.html

barred owl
By Dick Brewer

“Water levels are down more, even after the recent rains. Consequently, gator and wading bird numbers are down too. 

One Roseate Spoonbill spent most of the day at Ida’s Pond, so visitors coming in had a spoonbill, Banded Water Snake, gators, Anhingas, Red-bellied Turtle, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, and Great Egrets to greet them.

The “hot spot” for the day was past marker 2 where the barbed wire fence ends and a service road splits to the left. There’s a depressionnat the junction of the main tram and the service road where a River Otter spent time catching and eating Crayfish that were left. A young
Barred Owl was in a cypress overhead, and while I was talking with four women who were enjoying the otter and owl, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo called from behind us. Later, hikers and bikers all commented about the otter and owl, so it was a great day for everyone.

The tram between markers 6 and 3 hasn’t been mowed recently, so the higher grasses are attracting lots of butterfly species, especially skippers”.

By Dick Brewer

Bird Rookery Swamp observations
Saturday, May 2 ~ 7:15 am-1:30 pm

Anhinga – 11
Great Blue Heron – 2
Great Egret – 6
Snowy Egret – 4
Little Blue Heron – 3
Tri-colored Heron – 1
Black-crowned Night Heron – 3
White Ibis – 1
Roseate Spoonbill – 1
Wood Stork – 8
Black Vulture – 44
Turkey Vulture – 18
Red-shouldered Hawk – 11
Common Ground Dove – 6
Yellow-billed Cuckoo – 1
Barred Owl – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 15
Downy Woodpecker – 2
Pileated Woodpecker – 4
Great-crested Flycatcher – 6
Blue Jay – 2
American Crow – 1
Tufted Titmouse – 7
Carolina Wren – 11
White-eyed Vireo – 14
Northern Cardinal – 23
Common Grackle – 6

Palamedes Swallowtail – 5
Tiger Swallowtail – 1
Zebra Longwing – 2
Ruddy Daggerwing – 7
White Peacock – 58
Red Admiral – 1
Viceroy – 2
Queen – 1
Monarch – 1
Great Southern White – 12
Tropical Checker – 6
Whirlabout – 1
Twin-spotted Skipper – 1
Delaware Skipper – 1

Raccoon – 1
River Otter – 1
White-tailed Deer – 1
Alligator – 84
Brown Anole – 12
Red-bellied Turtle – 7
Banded Water Snake – 1
Pig Frog – 3
Green Treefrog – 5
Cuban Treefrog – 2
Great Blue Skimmer – 1
Needham’s Skimmer – 2
Eastern Pondhawk – 85
Gar – 28

 By Dick Brewer

Great Blue Skimmer
By Dick Brewer

Guided Hikes at Bird Rookery Swamp

Free guided walks are offered each Wednesday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. each season (November through Easter).

Volunteer naturalists will lead a small group along the shell path to our boardwalk while discussing the history of Bird Rookery Swamp, the purpose of the watershed, the importance of the aquifer and the flora and fauna of this unique ecosystem.


Bird Rookery Swamp

Registration is required, to sign up click here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2014-15-bird-rookery-swamp-guided-walks-registration-15291652745

BRS sign

Sharing the Trails with Children

Winter is one of our busiest seasons for environmental education programs out on the CREW Marsh Trails. So, don’t be alarmed if you find yourself on the trails along with 120 kids.


group of students on the CREW trails
Calusa Park students learn about CREW


The CREW Marsh Trail is an  exciting outdoor classroom for kids from both Lee and Collier Counties. Jessi Drummond,  our Environmental Education Specialist, takes 3rd graders out on a “Walk through the Watershed” where they spend time dip-netting, getting to know where their water comes from, and the importance of protecting the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed.

Ricky Pires,  from FGCU’s Wing of Hope  Panther Posse Program, brings 4th and 5th grade students to the CREW Marsh Trails to teach them about the Florida panther, its habitat and research. FGCU college students help to lead the Wings of Hope field trips, giving them valuable service-learning experience.

Ricky Pires with Panther Posse students
Ricky Pires with Panther Posse students

Both of these programs, plus a variety of private and home school groups use the CREW trails to help educate the kids of all ages about CREW. As part of our mission to protect the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed, these educational programs are important to developing support for the watershed and engaging people in its protection.

So, remember, the next time you go out to the CREW Marsh trails on a weekday from 10 AM to 1 PM, you may find kids exploring nature. Be glad they are there.

Anyone is welcome to come see the magic in action and experience the joy of children outdoors. For more information on CREW’s Environmental Education programs, click here.


February Strolling Science Seminar: Gopher Tortoises

Get ready to meet one of Florida’s most important keystone species – the Gopher Tortoise – at CREW’s Strolling Science Seminar (SSS) on Saturday, February 7th at the CREW Cypress Dome Trails . This exciting strolling seminar – The Gopher Tortoise: How protecting one species actually protects hundreds – will be led by FGCU biology instructor, Dr. John Herman. Registration is required, sign up here.

john herman with gopher tortoise
Dr. John Herman works with gopher tortoises

Dr. John Herman’s enthusiasm for reptiles is contagious and his first-hand knowledge is vast. Don’t miss this chance to learn science from one of the best.

Gopher Tortoises are called ecosystem engineers because they fundamentally change the environment where they live by digging burrows. Their burrows provide critical habitat for over 300 other species. We will investigate these burrows and get to know many of these co-inhabitants. Whether you love reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, insects, or plants; this seminar will have it all, thanks to the mighty Gopher Tortoise!

Gopher Tortoise

What to wear/bring: Wear comfortable outdoor walking clothes and closed-toed shoes. Please bring water to drink and to use to rinse hands. Also please avoid putting sunscreen, lotion, hand sanitizer, or any other chemical on the palms of your hands during this session.

Are there age limits for this event? Yes – this walking seminar is for adults, ages 18 and over.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event? No. We like to conserve resources, so print tickets will not be issued. Just check in with the CREW staff when you arrive.

Bike the Bird Rookery Swamp Loop

Like to bike? Well come out to Bird Rookery Swamp on January 9th, 2015 and  join CREW Trust volunteers Peter Tomlinson and Jan Watson for a guided  tour of the picturesque 12-mile loop. 

View beautiful scenery, great wildlife, and enjoy the company of like-minded souls.

Activity Level: Strenuous-This is a trail ride on uneven, soft, grassy/sandy trails. Ground level with swamp on both sides of the trail.

BRING YOUR OWN BICYCLE: Mountain, hybrid or fat tire bikes are recommended. Not appropriate for road bicycles. CREW does NOT provide bikes for this tour. 

Space is limited to first 20 riders that register, so use the link below and sign up fast:





%d bloggers like this: