Published: Jan 03, 2013 5:21 PM EST
Updated: Jan 03, 2013 8:52 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - There are new signs of economic growth in Southwest Florida and they're telling you to visit our wonderful trails!

"They're promoting sites that are a little bit smaller and aren't on the main path and so these are little known areas," said Heather Gienapp with Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve.

The "Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail" signs, featuring a swallow-tailed kite logo, are popping up in 11 South Florida counties, inlcuding 35 in Lee County. They're among the hundreds across South Florida.

"We were putting the signs up just to give people a chance to see what this place was about and that it was a part of the great Florida birding trail," said Gienapp.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife viewing generates more than $5 billion in Florida and supports 51,000 jobs.
"We have a lot of visitors from other countries specifically that come here to view the wildlife in the area. It's a big draw, eco-tourism is a big draw," she said. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission purchased more than 1,500 signs with a 1.86 million dollar statewide grant.

Visitors like Phil Medler from Ontario says it paid off.

"We didn't know about this place before the other day, we drove by and saw the signs which we said, ok let's go back to that place," Medler said.

The FWC also produced guide booklets with maps showcasing birding and wildlife viewing opportunities throughout Florida.