A 14 1/2 mile cycling trail is described in a new brochure by the Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys Refuges. The cycling or hiking route encompasses 5 refuge roads, 4 of which loop back to CR 349.
The trail is the brainchild of Charlie Adkins and Caroline Nobbs, Refuge volunteers during the winter of 2014, who are pictured in the brochure. Peg and Russ Hall hiked the trail as training for their Camino de Santiago trek and provided Debbie Meeks with habitat information for the brochure. Daniel Barrand, Refuge Forester, crafted the map.
The “CR 349 Refuge Cycling Tour” brochure is available at the Suwannee Tech Center, the Dixie Mainline kiosk, and Refuge Headquarters near Fowler’s Bluff. You can also download from the website. Click Here.
There is a new reason to explore the Salt Creek spur road off the Dixie Mainline, a 1/3 mile loop trail has recently been cut and sign posted. The loop offers three vistas across the salt marsh, a fresh water marsh pond and several stately grand-daddy live oak trees.
Furrows are apparent when you walk the trail. Daniel Barrand, Refuge Forester, says they are evidence of past timber planting. He also points out a higher windrow about half way around the trail that was made by raking and piling logging debris into a long row. He says the refuge once experimented by knocking down a windrow and found that many of the long-dormant native seeds sprouted. What was once an unwanted plant is welcome again. Daniel Barrand is pleased to see so much plant diversity as we walk the Salt Creek loop trail including native blueberry, persimmon, cedar and wire grass.
While you are parked, visit the Salt Creek fishing/observation platform. Bald eagles often nest on the island across the creek from the platform.
Despite the stormy forecast on November 19, the Suwannee Waterways Cleanup only had light sprinkles- great weather to gather garbage. Folks often overlook trash while pleasure boating but when 18 kayak, canoe and power boat volunteers searched... they found 429 pounds! It is tricky to find a spot to disembark near Suwannee due to slippery mud banks but the litter payoff is huge when you walk the high-water line. The most unusual find was a message in a bottle.
The Suwannee Community Center was filled with 34 guests who enjoyed a pot-luck meal featuring smoked chicken by Jerry Everett, owner of the Waterfront Market. After lunch, Tom McLaulin, from the Florida Paddling Trails Association, talked about Suwannee’s role as a Blueway Community. It is also a stop on the FPTA’s Circumnavigation Trail. The Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys Refuges ended the afternoon with their monthly board meeting.
Four non-profit groups joined together during this event in one effort: The Suwannee Chamber of Commerce, The Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys Refuges, Florida Paddling Trails Association and Paddle Florida.
This post was written by Jay Bushnell, former president of Friends.
Fall has always been a special time of year on the river for me. This year is different. The climbing asters with the unbelievable fragrance and the blankets of yellow flower nestled among the bonnets are still there to enjoy.
However, notice the dark reddish brown leaves in these two pictures. These are dead Red Bay trees. It has been estimated that the Red Bay ambrosia beetle arrived in 2002 on pallets at ports near Savannah from somewhere in Asia. The beetle lays its eggs in the tree causing laurel wilt fungus which kills the tree. Do a web search and you will find ‘extinction’ associated with the Red Bay trees.
If so, we are witnessing extinction first hand. This would be just another casualty of the globalization of world economies. As would be expected, other life forms are also affected. For example, the paradises swallow tail, Schaus and spicebush butterflies are dependent on the Red Bay.
It would be an understatement to say that the beetle is spreading fast across the Southeastern US. It is not known what affect the beetle will have on other species. Nor does there seem to be a plan to combat the beetle.
As part of an expansion of our advocacy mission, former Friends president, Peg Hall, has posted an essay telling why she believes the Refuges are at risk of losing their ability to protect the wilderness and wildlife that are the foundation of our natural-resource based economy and our cherished way of life.
Rest in Peace, Bill Kilborn
Bill died peacefully in his sleep at home in Trenton FL on Friday October 16 after a short illness. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of Friends for several years. All of the Friends will miss his wry humor and savvy counsel. The Communications Team particularly will miss him, and his consistent dislike for all things "Apple" or "Mac". . . unusual for a graphics kinda guy, but who wouldn't want to work with a talented free-thinker.
Here are some of the comments from board members about losing him much too soon.
Current Problems is de-littering Shired Island on Saturday, October 24 from 10am-2pm. Meet at the Shired ramp.
Plastics are becoming more and more of a problem on coastal shorelines everywhere, and the Gulf coastal islands along the shore from Cedar Key northward are no exception. We will clean Shired Island and 2 or 3 nearby sandy islands. There's work for a couple of power boats, some paddlers, and land based volunteers too.
Contact Fritzi Olson if you can join us at Current Problems, Inc, 352-215-7554
Gator in the Refuge - I was fishing in the beautiful Lower Suwannee NWR last Friday. This ole gator decided to follow me around...probably hoping to snitch one of my fish. Didn't happen!
Our love of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges sometimes leads us to visit other refuges, if only to see how they compare. Our Past President Bob Hudson recently had the chance to visit the Alaska Maritime NWR. It has more shorebirds than the rest of the United States combined. It also has a spectacular Visitor Center. We need one of those!
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The official government websites of the Refuges are linked below.
The Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge