Let’s All Leave No Trace

Blue skies, cool breezes and dry trails mean a lot of us are heading to our favorite spots on the CREW trails.

Last weekend, a group of campers reported that they found an old pile of trash at one of our primitive campsites. I returned later that day to clean it up for our next group of campers and, what was one small pile of old trash led to three different areas behind the camping area where trash had repeatedly been dumped.

I apologized to the new campers for the trash, cleaned up three bags and left. On the way back to the gate, I collected candy wrappers, a disposable coffee cup, and a pile of dog waste bags that were neatly placed next to our only port-o-potty.

I had two teenage helpers with me, and one of them said, “Why don’t you just have a trash can out here?”

That’s a very good question. And we have very long, detailed answers we can give. But, the simple answer is this:

Leave No Trace.

There are seven Leave No Trace principles, found here at lnt.org:

Plan ahead and prepare: Know where you are going and the regulations for that area.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces: Concentrate on using existing trails, campsites and surfaces. Good campsites are found, not altered.

Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out. This includes waste created by pets.

Leave what you find: Refrain from taking rocks and sticks to stack near trail heads for future use; do not remove anything you find on the trail.

Minimize campfire impacts: Keep fires small and only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. This is highly important during our current very dry season.

Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and never feed them.

Be considerate of other visitors: Treat others on the trail as you would wish to be treated.

In addition to our posting signs about leaving no trace, we also have trail use guidelines, which go into more specific details on our website: crewtrust.org/home/trail-guidelines.

It would be easy to post more signs, but the reality is, the best way to change behavior is to model the behavior we want to see.

Which is what most of our visitors do, and we appreciate you and your continued efforts to leave no trace. And we hope that, as you meet new hikers on the trail or take friends and relatives out, you pass the leave no trace principles on to them.

For complete SFWMD public use rules, visit sfwmd.gov.

For more information on how you can help with trail clean-ups and become a volunteer, email anne@crewtrus.mystagingwebsite.com.


Flint Pen

PRESS RELEASE: June 29, 2015

CONTACT: DEP Press Office, 850.245.2112, DEPNews@dep.state.fl.us


~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:http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLDEP/bulletins/10c091b

CREW Begins Aerial Treatment of Willows in Marsh

written by Deb Hanson and Kathleen Smith

Willows growing in marsh
Willows growing in marsh

If you’ve ever stood on the observation tower at the CREW Marsh Trails and looked out over the 5,000-acre marsh, you may have noticed that the sawgrass marsh is being overtaken by coastal plain willow shrubs. While coastal plain willow is a native species, under certain conditions it becomes invasive – out-competing the sawgrass, taking over the landscape and reducing open water habitat for wading birds. The Corkscrew Marsh at CREW has experienced this phenomenon and much of the 5000-acre marsh is now covered with willow.

Open Water Corkscrew Marsh
Open Water Corkscrew Marsh

The invasion of the Corkscrew Marsh by coastal plain willow (Salix caroliniana) has altered the structure of the marsh community. Marshes dominated by coastal plain willow inhibit nutrient cycling and the maintenance of diverse biological communities as well as the use of prescribed fire as a management tool for controlling exotic plants and maintaining open-water habitat for wading birds (Frederick and Spalding 1994). So, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) jointly applied to the FWC Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Enhancement (AHRE) Sub-section for funds for the treatment of approximately 1,075 acres of willows in CREW. The objective of the project is to decrease coverage of undesirable willow in the marsh to allow herbaceous vegetation to increase in coverage, enhancing fish and wildlife habitat and creating more open-water marsh.

The application was funded, and aerial treatment (via helicopter) began at CREW on August 26th. Three different ratios of Glyphosate and Imazapyr are being used, tested and analyzed to determine which is the most effective treatment and what herbacious vegetation returns to the marsh post-treatment. The goal and performance standard that will be used to assess success of the project is less than 50% coverage of willow within the treatment site two years post-treatment.

Helicopter loading for aerial spraying
Helicopter loading for aerial spraying

The treatment area is in the central eastern and southern parts of the marsh. Aerial photomonitoring at 3-month intervals after initial treatment will be used to evaluate the response of the willow. Georeferencing markers have been established in the marsh to spatially reference aerial photos taken at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months post-treatment (we may also supplement with on the ground photos).  This will be a long-term maintenance project with re-treatments and potential native plantings for years to come.

Helicopter taking off to go to marsh
Helicopter taking off to go to marsh

So, when you look out over the marsh during the next couple of years, watch for changes in the plant composition on the horizon to the east. Hopefully it will open the marsh and encourage new native species of plants to grow, providing better habitat for fish and wildlife and water storage and filtration for our drinking water supply.



(Thanks to Kathleen Smith of FWC for providing the photos and facts for this article!)

CREW Trust Celebrates 25 Years of Conservation

CREW Marsh after a Tropical Storm
CREW Marsh after Tropical Storm Faye in 2008 (Photo by Deb Hanson)

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2014. This is a watershed year for the CREW Land & Water Trust as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary! The CREW Trust was formed in 1989 by Joel Kuperberg (a former Naples City Councilman, botanist, head of Florida’s Internal Improvement Fund, and later Director of the Trust for Public Land) as a public-private partnership to coordinate the land acquisition, management, and public outreach for the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW). Since then, this watershed stewardship project has accomplished much that it set out to do, including protecting over 45,000-acres of land within the established boundaries of the watershed.

This accomplishment has been the result of efforts by multiple agencies, organizations, landowners, businesses, and private citizens. The CREW Land & Water Trust’s strength over the years has been to build partnerships and bring people together with the vision of protecting this watershed which provides drinking water for residents and visitors to southwest Florida. Some of the main partners are:

  • The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) – the primary landowner and land manager within CREW.
  • Lee and Collier Counties – both of which have purchased land within CREW
  • The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) – which oversees wildlife management, hunting, and law enforcement on CREW lands
  • Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary – which is located in the heart of the CREW and whose former Director, Ed Carlson, helped write one of the initial proposals requesting the SFWMD to purchase Bird Rookery Swamp
  • ALICO – which sold the first land to the CREW project – the Corkscrew Marsh unit off of Corkscrew Road.

Here’s a very abbreviated timeline of some of the highlights of our 25 years….

CREW Timeline

The CREW Trust has multiple events planned throughout the year to celebrate its 25th Anniversary. Registration is required for all of these events. You can register at http://crewtrust.eventbrite.com

  • January 16 – CREW Wine & Cheese Social (Invitation Only -Members and Volunteers)
  • February 1 – Hike the Loop: 12-Mile Hike at Bird Rookery Swamp
  • February 14 – Love in the Wild Hike
  • March 1 – CREW Concert & Silent Eco-Auction – tickets at http://crewconcert2014.bpt.me/
  • March 21 – CREW Horseback Ride from Flint Pen to Bird Rookery Swamp
  • April 5 – Butterfly Hike with David Cooper @ Marsh Trail
  • April 5 – Geocaching with The Unusual Suspects @ Cypress Dome Trail
  • April 12 – Wildflower Hike with Roger Hammer @ Marsh Trail
  • October TBD – CREW Golf Tournament
  • October TBD – 10K Trail Run
  • November 15 – Vitamin N Hike for Families
  • December 6 – Bike the Loop: 12-mile Bicycle Trail Ride at Bird Rookery Swamp

We hope to see you at one of our events. Come celebrate with us!

And thanks to Chad Gillis and Andrew West for the article in today’s Fort Myers News-Press about the CREW Trust’s 25th Anniversary.

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10 Ways to Enjoy the CREW Trails This Summer

10 Ways to Enjoy the CREW Trails This Summer

by Deb Hanson marsh bdwalk2

Summer is approaching and our schedule of events is empty. The CREW Trust has had a fabulous fall/winter season at CREW this year with the help of our project partners, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) staff who owns and manages the CREW lands, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission biologist who monitors wildlife and habitat at CREW, and our fabulous volunteers and FGCU interns who assist with guided walks, trail maintenance, exotics removal, and many other tasks.

Since October 1st, 2012 over 6000 people participated in our guided hikes, strolling science seminars, school field trips, and special programs for CREW Trust members and the public. Thousands more explored the CREW trails on their own and have connected with the watershed in many ways.

But don’t stay away from CREW just because we don’t have many organized summer programs planned. Come on out and enjoy CREW in a whole new way on your own. Summer is a time for the CREW trails to rest. With fewer footprints along the paths, grass grows taller, wildlife ventures out, and of course – with the arrival of summer storms – the water levels rise. By October, the marsh and swamps of CREW will be wet and green and teeming with animal activity. Summer is truly the most amazing time of year to experience CREW.

So, put on your old sneakers and long pants, sunscreen and bug spray, and try one or more of these suggestions to enjoy CREW on your own this summer:
1. Go for a Treasure Hunt  – CREW is home to over 100 geocaches – hidden treasures placed out in the woods along the trails that can be located by GPS coordinates – thanks to local geocachers JunglePete and The Unusual Suspects. If you’ve never been geocaching, grab your GPS unit or smartphone, go to http://geocaching.com for info and CREW coordinates and give it a whirl this summer.

caloosa trailheads2. Take a Run – running the CREW trails is a lot more interesting than pounding the pavement or hitting the treadmill at the gym. Research shows that running outdoors gives you more exercise due to varied elevation and wind resistance, too. Plus, fresh air and proximity to trees heals and refreshes. Check out the Caloosa Trailheads Facebook page to connect with like-minded folks or find a running buddy, then come run a mile or two or ten at CREW.

3. Track an Animal – hit the trail with one purpose: to track a critter. Summer means rain and softer ground, so tracks are more easily found along the trails. Challenge yourself to locate and identify five new animal tracks this summer. Grab a track field guide or app, a tape measure and a friend, then see what you can learn about animals that come out to play at CREW during the summer.

4. Just Sit There – 99% of the time people come to CREW walk, run or bike the trails. Rarely do people go to one spot and sit still. Yet 100% of the time, if you sit still in one place for more than 10 minutes you will see, hear, and experience more critters than in three hours of hiking. So, pick a trail, find a spot, and just sit there. Watch the magic happen.

camping fire5. Spend the Night – CREW has two primitive campsites that are free and available by Special Use License through the SFWMD at http://goo.gl/5wUfJ. If you’ve never been out at CREW at night, camping can give you a whole new perspective about the place. Practice “Leave No Trace” and enjoy the quiet serenity of CREW after dark.

6. Engage Your Senses – most folks walk and look when hiking the CREW Trails. Next time you go, take advantage of the summer humidity and focus attention on your sense of smell. Every animal and plant has a unique scent. Expand your sensory experience by listening and touching, too. Just be sure you can ID poison ivy first!

7. Take the Road Less Traveled – Do you take the same trail every time you come to CREW or have a favorite that you always share with friends and visitors. This summer, take a different trail or loop. Try the Pine Flatwoods Trail at the CREW Marsh or the White Loop/Wild Coffee Trail at the Cypress Dome Trails, or if you’re really ambitious (and well-prepared with water, food, and sun protection) try to get to the north or west tram at Bird Rookery Swamp. Head a new direction and see what surprises await you.

8. Awaken Your Sense of Wonder with a Child – Rachel Carson proclaimed “If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” So, take a child by the hand and explore CREW, experience bugs and birds, get dirty and wet, spend unstructured time playing in nature. You may be surprised at how much it helps you connect, too.

CowNov.19979. Get Your Cowboy/girl On – Adjacent to the CREW Cypress Dome Trails (and connected via the White Loop) are the Caracara Prairie Preserve Trails, owned by Conservation Collier and the CREW Land & Water Trust. These three miles of trails traverse an active cattle ranch. So, put on your cowboy hat and take a hike through oak hammocks, towering pines, and some beautiful wet prairie. Be prepared to get your feet wet crossing the ditch from the Dome Trails to the Caracara Trails (Oh, and no dogs allowed – to keep the cattle safe).

10. Catch a Sunrise/Sunset – all the CREW Trails are open to the public from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, so start your day right and head out to the Marsh Overlook early one morning this summer to watch the sun rise over the 5000-acre Corkscrew Marsh. Or, if you’re just not a morning person, try getting there just before dark to watch the sunset filtering through those billowing summer storm clouds. Either way, you’ll enrich your life and your spirit!

However you choose to experience CREW this summer, we’d love to hear from you! Share your adventures with us by posting pictures and comments on the CREW Land & Water Trust Facebook page or send us an email to let us know what you did that was new and exciting.

We’ll be publishing our fall/winter program schedule later this summer, so stay tuned…and have a wonderful time at CREW or wherever you spend your summer!

In Memory of Jim Goodwin

Jim Goodwin, long-time land manager for the CREW Project, passed away in
mid-July just months after his retirement from the South Florida Water Management District. He left a great legacy and his spirit will live on in the work we do as we move forward and continue to preserve and protect the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed.

Jim’s wife, Layne, has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Jim’s honor to the CREW Land and Water Trust. We are honored and humbled and have set up a special Jim Goodwin Memorial Fund in his name. If you’d like to make a donation, please visit our Donate page.

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