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!
The Natural Resources Defense Council posted a CSI story about the Seahorse Key rookery abandonment in its magazine onEarth. Thanks NRDC and all the other organizations, agencies, and media from the members of the Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs. We greatly appreciate your attention to the importance and value of protecting the refuge that protects the birds and their habitat.
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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