Once a month during the tourist season, people pack up their sun visors and bottles of water and head out to the Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve to see what nature has to offer Lee County and Southwest Florida.
More than a dozen people took a walk on the wild side Saturday for the fourth and final guided walk on the 1.5-mile trail, much of which is on a boardwalk.
While you can access these lands daily, Lee County Parks & Rec holds these monthly guided walks at numerous Conservation 20/20 locations, including at Caloosahatchee Preserve and Prairie Pines.
Robin Gardner, a volunteer for the Lee County Parks & Rec, shows some Spanish moss at the Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve on North Fort Myers on Saturday.
Robin Gardner, volunteer for Lee County Parks & Rec, took his small group on a 90-minute walk, stopping along the way to explain the native and invasive plant life that lives in the preserve, while telling some stories about them.
"We hope that we see some wild flowers in bloom and people want to know the names of things. We'll discuss elevation and what lives here and who," Gardner said.
Attendance has been quite good this year, Gardner said. Between 18 and 25 people take the hikes, which is why they have two guides and sometimes three to split up the group. "It makes for a better conversation," Gardner said.
Margie Robbins has done the 20/20 Conservation walks regularly, including this one. She brought her sister, Muriel Anderson, who came from South Dakota on this one.
"Robin is very knowledgeable and can tell you every plant you're looking at. I thought for sure he was a botany professor," Robbins said, a snowbird who goes on nature walks in South Dakota. "I learn so much on these walks about plants and butterflies and it's always something different."
Gardner identified most of the plants for the people, and told a story about how Spanish Moss was used by Henry Ford to stuff the seat cushions in his cars.
People also got to learn about the animal habitat that lives there, as well as the plight of the butterfly from fellow guide Nick Bodven which, along with bees, are the greatest pollinators on the earth.
Pat Fuschetto, of Cape Coral, enjoyed the walk, as she usually does, having done a similar one in Pine Island a few weeks ago.
"I thought they did a great job of explaining things and I learned a few new things. I'm trying to remember the new plants he showed us," Fuschetto said. "The more I go, the more I hope to learn more and more."
Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve is a nearly 2,200-acre parcel that was purchased with 20/20 Conservation money between 2000 and 2008 at a cost of more than $8 million.
The preserve is located on the north bank of the Caloosahatchee River, and the east and west ends are separated by Interstate 75 and includes two separate access points on either side of the interstate.