Monthly Archives: August 2017

Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW)

The Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) is a private non-profit organization that manages a land area encompassing 60,000 acres that straddles Lee and Collier counties in SW Florida. The South Florida Water Management District owns the land which is used as a water recharge area and the South Florida Water Management District which enforces the laws regarding hunting and wildlife.

I became aware of CREW when I took a naturalist course through the Florida Master Naturalist Program offered through the extension office in my county. (Lee) About 25 of us took a full day  class every week for about 8 weeks examining the “Wetlands” in South Florida and learned about the importance of keeping water resource areas such as swamps, lakes, ponds and other fresh water bodies of water safe and protected. Wetlands provide a natural recharge place for rain water to filter back into the ground, and recharge aquifers where we get most of our drinking water.  Our class shown above took a field trip to CREW one day and our nature walk took us through different ecosystems of trees, plants, dry and wet areas. Our experienced nature guide explained the different kinds of plants and animals that lived in this 60,000 acre region and what areas get particularly flooded during rainy season.

CREW has a staff of volunteers that work there at different times of the day and week that can offer visitors chances to take guided nature walks through the area. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys learning more about Florida’s natural areas and inland regions. Visit their website to learn more about this watershed and how to take advantage of its learning and ecotourism opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

Climate Change and Fertilizers Damaging Our Waterways

The New York Times published an article on July 28th, titled “Study Shows Rising Risk to Waterways from Fertilizers.” The article states that increased use of fertilizers from homeowners treating their lawns and from farms use of fertilizers on their crops can result in harmful algae blooms in nearby waterways during heavy rainfalls. The rains wash nitrogen and other chemicals off of lawns and farmland into lakes, streams and rivers which pollutes our sources of water for drinking, fishing and recreation.

Climate Change will increase the rate of rainfall according to the article which will increase the amount of chemicals pouring into our waterways. Scientists urge agricultural businesses to rethink their use of fertilizers when their properties are located near lakes, streams and rivers. Eutrophication is a term used to describe the growth of plant life such as algae which occurs when excess nitrogen washes into waterways and cuts off the supply of sunlight and oxygen. The depletion of oxygen in a waterway creates a dead zone in which other forms of life cannot live.

One of the biggest dead zones in the U.S. is the mouth of the Mississippi River which covers an area of 10,000 square miles or about the size of Vermont. Billions of gallons of water laden with chemicals comes coursing down the river from cities and towns in the middle and upper Mississippi River Water Basin. The pictures shown above left to right are of the Caloosahatchee River, Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee which are all affected by nitrogen, fertilizer and sewage runoff resulting in Eutrophication and dead zones. The South Florida Water Management District has good information about their efforts to control pollution runoff and protecting our lakes, streams, beaches and other wetlands from pollution.