Friends of Bonita Estero Rail Trail is growing, and more importantly, making a difference. Because of your support this unused rail line will be acquired and the State SUN Trails program will design and build this multi-use trail. Today we are asking you to take action with your city/village elected officials. 

Friends of BERT (FoB) updates: 

  • As of January 6, 2023 FoB membership is 1,384! That’s over 200 in the last two weeks! 
  • HOA Community Boards in Estero and Bonita Springs are endorsing the Bonita Estero Rail Trail. To date Pelican Landing, Pelican Sound and Bonita Fairways have all endorsed and sent letters to their municipal and county elected officials. More are in the works! Will your community be next? Contact Steve Gunther ( for more information and process with HOA Boards.
  • Friends of BERT submitted 501(c)3 application to the IRS. We will know in 2-4 weeks about FoB non-profit status. 
  • FoB board is formed: Emily Porter, Craig Bennington, Steve Gunther, Deb Orton are all officers on the Friends of BERT board
  • Past FoB updates are posted at our website under BERT News

Demonstrating Public Support works! 

We’ve learned that public support has brought Seminole Gulf Rail owners and Trust for Public Lands back to the negotiating table. As of this week we know SGR and TPL are actively negotiating a deal that would produce a binding agreement between the two entities, and allow the project to move forward to the “design phase”. With a deal in place funding will be sought at the municipal, county, state and federal levels to acquire, build and maintain the multiuse trail and linear park. 

A Call To Action!

This project is at a critical juncture, and we are asking you to write to your city/village council members and attend the Bonita Springs City Council meeting January 18th. Our elected municipal officials must understand there is broad support for this project. Bonita Springs and Estero Councils have received a resolution against the trail from a small community along the rail line. If they do not hear from us, they will not know just how much support this project has! 

Bonita Springs City Council meeting details: 

January 18, 2023

9:00 am start time, and we are hoping to be first on the agenda at 9:30 am

Address: 9101 Bonita Beach Road 

Arrive early and wear your BERT shirt if you have one! 

Write to Bonita Springs and Estero Council Members (below are email addresses to cut and paste) 

Each of you have sent reasons you want this rail trail project to move forward. Tell the council members why this is important to you. Your reasons are compelling! Tell your story! 

Use your stories and if you’d like, add some of the reasons below to your emails. 

  • Many of you tell us you’ve lived on or visited a trail up north and your experiences there. 
  • Many of you write about how you pack up your bike and head to the Legacy Trail or others, spending your time and money elsewhere instead of right here. 
  • Many of you talk about how much you lost in the hurricane and how you want to see our area come back “Florida Strong” with new amenities, including this trail. 

Why support Bonita Estero Rail Trail

  1. We must improve pedestrian and bicycle safety. Florida has the worst safety record in the US for pedestrians and cyclists. Lee County has the worst safety record in Florida. This trail will give us a place to walk, run and cycle safely. 
  2. Home values near a trail improve dramatically. The longer the trail, the more impact on home values.. Bonita Estero Rail Trail will be an essential part of the Florida Gulf Coast Trail, extending from Tampa to Naples. 
  3. Trails bring businesses economic benefits. Business along Bonita Estero Rail Trail will benefit not only from locals frequenting, but the trail will bring out of town visitors who stay longer and spend more money. Dunedin, a town along the Pinellas Trail, went from 70% business occupancy to 100% once the trail went in. Dunedin became Florida’s first “Trail Town” in 2018 and the business economy has been transformed due to the trail. 
  4. Creating a “linear park” along the unused Seminole Gulf Railway improves safety and security for the homes along the railway. There is ample proof that people walking, running, rolling and biking on trails makes the area safer. 
  5. Create open space and a place for our communities to recreate and connect with each other. 
  6. Take cars off of the busy roads. One half of all car trips are less than 3 miles. Lets create a safe option for active transportation along this unused corridor, where residents have a choice to walk or ride their bike instead of driving for their errands. 
  7. All over the United States, investments are being made in trails. The Rails to Trails Conservancy in 2022 stated the US now has 40,000 miles of multi use trails. Let’s make this investment on behalf of SW Florida residents. 
  8. Bonita Estero Rail Trail is already designated as a priority trail. Once the rail corridor is acquired, SUN Trail dollars will be used to build the trail. If we don’t go after those dollars, they will continue to be used elsewhere in Florida. 
  9. Trails are essential elements of any active transportation system. Where trails have been prioritized, surrounding communities have benefited greatly from economic, quality of life, health, accessibility, and mobility improvements. In national surveys1, consumers have repeatedly chosen trails and walkability as desired neighborhood amenities, boosting local real estate values.

Bonita Springs Mayor & City Council

Village of Estero Council and Mayors

Thank you for your enthusiastic support of the Bonita Estero Rail Trail and Friends of BERT! 

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: