From LaBelle, Florida for Hendry and Glades County and the Lake Okeechobee region. Don Browne, editor.
Friday, July 15, 2011
New Access To Lee-Collier Park
Corkscrew Watershed Opens Entrance To Bird Rookery Swamp
Bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts alike have a new gateway into the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW) management area in Southwest Florida.
The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) has completed an access enhancement to the popular Bird Rookery Swamp, opening a southern entrance point for the public to CREW. The work is part of the District's overall effort to facilitate recreational use of public land.
The Rookery's Swamp area's new features include:
·Upgraded access to the existing boardwalk
·Americans with Disabilities Act compliant facilities, including a wheelchair access trail
Encompassing 7,017 acres, the Bird Rookery Swamp Management Unit is managed by the District in cooperation with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). The site is a key component in maintaining the hydrological balance of the greater Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed.
The District and its partners — representing businesses, environmental groups, landowners and governmental agencies — manage CREW for its numerous benefits to water storage, wildlife preservation and public recreation opportunities. The 60,000-acre watershed spanning Lee and Collier counties includes a majestic 5,000-acre marsh at its headwaters and the famous Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
The vast majority of Bird Rookery Swamp features forested wetland dominated by bald cypress and red maple trees. There is also a mix of wet flatwoods and dome swamps bordering the western edge and an area of open marsh, dominated by sawgrass and Carolina willow in the center tract.
Many threatened and endangered plants and animals call Bird Rookery Swamp home. Florida panthers, black bears, white-tail deer, alligators and a menagerie of birds are just a sampling of Florida's native species utilizing the area.
Bird Rookery Swamp is also a great place for visitors to experience a glimpse of "Old Florida." Recreational opportunities such as biking, hiking and nature appreciation are allowed throughout the property. There is a 1,400-foot boardwalk near the public parking area that connects to a 12-mile loop of tram roads through some of the most beautiful natural habitats found in Southwest Florida.