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:



Live Music, Kids Activities and CREW- October 24th

Riverfest picture


Riverfest pictureJoin CREW on “Saturday Oct. 24 at Riverside Park in the historic, downtown district of Bonita Springs on Old U.S. 41 and Pennsylvania Avenue. Hosted by the City of Bonita Springs,  the event will include live entertainment, a cornhole tournament, hayrides, a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, and the popular fish fry. Festivities also include the traditional Imperial River Challenge featuring canoe and kayak races, pumpkin decorating contest, and the children’s rubber duck race. Kids will enjoy the petting zoo, pony rides, and to pick their very own pumpkin from a pumpkin patch after a free hayride!

Admission to Riverfest is free to the entire community. Food and beverages will be available for purchase with proceeds donated to local area charities.

In keeping with RiverFest’s mission of eco-tourism and sustainability, local vendors will provide displays and demonstrations geared toward the environment. Water safety demonstrations will also be offered. Proceeds from RiverFest will benefit the Waterways Conservation Fund, Bonita Assistance Office and Bonita Nature Place

To register for the Imperial River Challenge, order tickets for the fish fry or for more information about RiverFest, contact the City of Bonita Springs 239.949.6262 or visit ”

– For the full article visit

Come see CREW at the annual “Ding” Darling Days this Sunday Oct. 18

ding darling days icon

Free Family Fun Day kicks off ‘Ding’ Darling Days

ding darling days icon

“Ding” Darling Days weeklong birding and eco-festival kicks off at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island on Sunday Oct. 18, 2015 with a free Family Fun Day.

Family Fun Day features free activities such as narrated refuge tram tours, live wildlife presentations, kids nature crafts, a touch tank, a butterfly house, a photo-share kiosk, and archery lessons. Value is $75 for a family of four. Back for a third year, Heather Henson’s Ibex Puppetry out of Orlando will perform Wild Puppets with life-sized puppets portraying endangered and other refuge animals. CREW Land & Water Trust will have an outreach table and a fun track ID activity. Enjoy a day outside with the whole family.


Schedule for Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015

10:45am FREE Flag-raising ceremony, EC entrance

11am FREE All A-Flutter about Native Butterflies program with Gary & Alice Lavimoniere, followed by free bags giveaway, EC Auditorium

ALL DAY: 10% off all butterfly & bee gifts in the Refuge Nature Store

12noon FREE “Wild Puppets!” presentation by Heather Henson’s Ibex Puppetry, EC parking lot

1pm FREE Live Florida Animals program with Ranger Becky & CROW, EC parking lot

2pm FREE Snakes Alive! programwith Calusa Herpetological Society, EC parking lot

3pm FREE Live Florida Animals program with Ranger Becky & CROW, EC parking lot

– See more at:

For a full “Ding” Darling Days schedule, visit, or call 239-472-1100. To see the full Press Release, visit

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.”-


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:



Flint Pen

PRESS RELEASE: June 29, 2015

CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112,


~Project phase will restore wetlands, provide flood protection and increase water storage~

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has authorized the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to continue the next phase of the Southern Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) Restoration Project. When completed, the project will provide significant benefits to the ecosystem including restoring wetlands and the natural sheetflow of water, improving regional flood protection drainage, increasing water storage and aquifer recharge capability, and reducing the amount of nutrient-rich stormwater reaching the Imperial River and Estero Bay.

“This project exemplifies the commitment of the state of Florida to protecting and restoring the larger south Florida ecosystem,” said DEP Deputy Secretary for Ecosystem Restoration Drew Bartlett. “The department will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure that restoration continues.”

The authorization issued today is for Phase II of the Southern CREW Restoration Project which encompasses 4,150 acres of multiple native plant communities, including hydric pine flatwoods, strand swamps, wet prairies and marshes that have been fragmented by past construction of ditches and roads. These alterations have resulted in restriction of historic sheetflow, artificial water impoundments and flooding, increased pollutant loading to the Imperial River, an Outstanding Florida Water, and disruption of natural wetland functions.

“The project will restore the southwest corner of the larger CREW project,” said SFWMD Governing Boardmember Rick Barber. “The restoration in this particular location creates a vital buffer area between the CREW project and the eastern urban boundary.”

Phase II of the project consists of ditch backfilling, ditch plugging, road degradation and the construction of low water crossings to allow for the re-establishment of hydrologic conditions similar to those present prior to development attempts of the area in the 1960s. The project is expected to restore approximately 437 acres of wetlands. The project’s enhancements are anticipated to encourage the growth and sustainability of native wetland plant species, providing both food and habitat for wildlife.

The Southern CREW Restoration Project is located in Lee County between the Kehl Canal, which is located adjacent to the northern boundary, east of Interstate 75 and north of Bonita Beach Road.

Original Article:

How to ID panthers and tracks

FWC Id panthers

With rainy season around the corner  wildlife tracks will become more visible. Not everyone will see a Florida Panther in their lifetime but they are more likely to come upon their tracks. Though spotting and identifying a track is definitely harder than identifying a Florida Panther itself. Lucky for us FWC came out with a E-Z guide on how to ID panthers and their tracks:

FWC Id panthers

Some of the information you will find in this online document:

  • Florida Panther identification
  • Florida Panther vs Bobcat
  • General track knowledge
  • Panther tracks vs Bobcat tracks
  • Panther tracks vs Dog tracks
  •  Data on Florida Panther sightings

To help with monitoring the Florida Panther, please send your photos of panthers or their tracks to: 


Wildflie Q&A: Florida Black Bears

A Florida Black Bear looks, listens, and sniffs the air. By Dick Brewer

Q: What should people do if they see a black bear on one of the trails?

A Florida Black Bear looks, listens, and sniffs the air. By Dick Brewer
A Florida Black Bear looks, listens, and sniffs the air. By Dick Brewer

A: Florida Black Bears are the only bear species that inhabit Florida. Safety tips are different with different species of bears due to their varying life histories. The following safety tips refer to black bears and not necessarily brown bears, Grizzly bears, or other bear species.

Think of a black bear as a large, stray dog in your neighborhood. Precautions you’d take with a stray dog apply to black bears too. Don’t make direct eye contact (a threat gesture), don’t run, and don’t turn your back to it.

First, make some noise (clapping hands, bell, whistle) so the bear knows that you are there. Surprising any wild animal is not a good thing.

Stand tall and make yourself look larger by raising your hands above your head. Adults should pick up and hold small children.

Then, back away slowly and get a safe distance away from the black bear. Just like dogs, black bears have a chase instinct and will go after something running from them even if they do not mean any harm. Once you are at a safe distance, you can snap a few photos and enjoy the moment.

Black bears in the wild are shy animals and generally not aggressive towards people. Exceptions would be a black bear that is strongly food conditioned and smells any food you are carrying, and a female black bear who is protecting her cubs. If you see a small cub seemingly by itself, back off immediately. The mother black bear is somewhere very close, and she is watching her cub and she is watching you.

A black bear is a large, powerful, wild animal. It pays to be cautious and to not provoke it, so know a little about black bear behavior before meeting one.

If a black bear stands on its hind legs, it’s not a threat; it just wants to get a better look and smell of the situation.

However, stamping its front legs, jaw popping (snapping its jaws together to make a popping noise), huffing (blowing air out of its nose and mouth quickly), or bluff charging (rushing toward a person but stopping before physically making contact) means it is nervous, and you need to back away from the black bear. Allow the black bear plenty of room to escape, which is all it really wants to do.

If a black bear does approach you and attack, hold your ground and fight back.

If camping at CREW, never store food or any heavily scented items (toothpaste, deodorant, etc.) in your tent. Always store it in a hard topped vehicle, hung from a tree at least 10 feet off the ground and 5 feet away from trees, or in a bear proof container that can be purchased at an outdoor recreation store. Food coolers are not bear proof containers. Click here to camp at CREW.
Online resource:

By: Dick Brewer

Fall Wildflower Walk Scheduled for October 18th

Pine lily
Pine lily

On October 18th, Brenda Thomas – FGCU instructor and former EE Specialist for CREW – will be leading a fall wildflower walk at the CREW Trails. Fall blooms are special because they include such rarities as the endangered Pine Lily (also known as the Catesby’s Lily) and many grasses which seed out only during the autumn months. Come learn from an expert, enjoy a cooler fall day on the trails, and feel the magic of the seasons changing.

To register for the fall wildflower walk, go to

Rare Amelanistic Pygmy Rattlesnakes Born at CREW

Earlier this summer a rare occurrence was discovered at CREW. A dusky pygmy rattlesnake gave birth to six offspring, three of which were amelanistic – meaning they lack the dark pigment (melanin) in their skin. According to Kevin Enge , a herp expert with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, this is extremely rare and to have three of the six born amelanistic is quite amazing. No amelanistic pygmies have ever been documented before in Florida.

It is likely these three would not survive long in the wild because their rare coloration makes them easy to see and more vulnerable as prey. Below is a picture of the adult (with typical coloration) and one of the three amelanistic juveniles. Pretty cool, huh?

The location and the time of discovery were kept secret until after the young dispersed in order to prevent collectors from trying to find and collect them to sell. We assume that nature has taken its course, because after about five days the snakes had all moved on and haven’t been seen since early July.

Juvenile amelanistic pygmy rattlesnake
Juvenile amelanistic pygmy rattlesnake



Adult dusky_pygmy_rattlesnake
“Momma” Adult dusky pygmy rattlesnake


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