Dear friends, a priority of Randell Research Center and Florida Museum leadership has been to open the entirety of the Calusa Heritage Trail, as quickly and safely as possible, so visitors can roam the Pineland landscape and we can once again welcome classes of fourth-grade students to explore the full trail.

wooden bridge over Cross-Island Canal with damage to rails and a tree fallen over one end
Bridge over “Cross-Island Canal” Florida Museum photo by Annisa Karim

We are pleased to share that, with the help of a committed volunteer corps and dedicated staff, a majority of the Calusa Heritage Trail has been cleaned up and unstable trees and extensive debris are no longer a safety concern. We now turn our focus to the rebuilding of the canal bridge and ask for your support as together we build a bridge to the future.

The bidding process for bridge construction is already underway and we hope to have construction completed by the end of January 2024. We are pulling funds from our reserves to ensure that uncertainty around FEMA funding and timelines does not slow our efforts, and we look to you – our dear friends and supporters – to help us fill the anticipated gap between replacement value and a new, upgraded bridge that meets contemporary safety and durability codes. The estimated cost of the new bridge before upgrades is $16,500. While the upgrades will be costlier, the decreased maintenance costs and increased longevity and accessibility are a silver lining. If we exceed our goal, we will put those funds towards a new observation deck on Brown’s Mound, again aiming for significant upgrades in construction.

We are incredibly grateful for your ongoing support and are eager to return to a full schedule of educational programs for schoolchildren and lifelong learners, welcoming our visitors to explore the wonders of the Calusa Heritage Trail and the archaeology, history, and ecology of Southwest Florida.

Please, make a gift and help build a bridge to the future!

Checks may be made out to the UF Foundation and mailed to Development Department, Florida Museum of Natural History, PO Box 112710, Gainesville, FL 32611. Please remember to insert a note that this is for the bridge project!

Thank you for sharing in this vision

This article was taken from the Friends of the Randell Research Center Newsletter Vol 22, No. 1 & 2. November 2023.