Rookery Bay History
In the 1960’s, with farms, buildings, roads and canals springing up across coastal Collier County, residents started to take notice that the once pristine bays and estuaries were showing the effects of development upstream. A 10-mile loop road through Rookery Bay proposed in 1963 would have opened up unbounded opportunities for coastal development, but a new perspective emerged in the community.
The Collier County Conservancy, the National Audubon Society, and the Nature Conservancy galvanized community support that resulted in more than $600,000 being raised to buy 3,362 acres of land that would have been otherwise destroyed. This land ultimately became the Rookery Bay Sanctuary, prompting the birth of a legacy.
In 1971, four thousand Greater Naples School children ran a penny-drive in a communal effort to stop a road-construction plan. Monument Trail gets its name from The Children’s Column, and a time capsule was placed inside it with the names of the children that helped protect this natural environment however, the capsule was vandalized and contents stolen before the capsule could be officially opened in the 2000 A.D. as the plaque reads.
Located near the end of Shell Island Road, the “Trails Through Time” is a series of four trails each approximately ¼ mile long. Botanical signage has been installed along the trails to assist visitors in identifying various native trees.
NOTICE: trails are currently overgrown and not suitable for hiking. Please check back for updates.
Shell Mound Trail
The Shell Mound Trail starts at the RBNERR field station. The trail follows a mangrove fringing shoreline adjacent to pre-Calusa midden sites, historical sites and an active habitat restoration project in progress. Visitors can learn about native peoples and pioneers who previously lived in the Rookery Bay area, as well as the role of the local community in establishing the Reserve, through self-guided interpretive signs.
Monument Point Trail
Monument Point Trail begins near the end of the Shell Mound Trail at the Shell Island Road boat ramp and leads visitors to the Children’s Monument on the bank of Henderson Creek. The monument recognizes the efforts of school children involved in helping to raise initial funds for purchasing core lands around Rookery Bay in the 1960’s. This trail is frequently used by visitors to access recreational fishing on the creek.
COME VISIT ROOKERY BAY
Fun at Rookery Bay!
A visit to Rookery Bay has so much fun in store for Kids & Families. Visit our Environmental Learning Center, Explore Rookery Bay with Nature Tours by Boat & Kayak, or take in a lecture.
Want to learn more about Rookery Bay?
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve has a rich history that started thousands of years ago.
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