The Refuge staff work regularly with other wildlife and naturalist professionals to maximize the impact of all agencies' smaller staffs and lesser resources. Annually, Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys Refuges supports a get together to celebrate this crucial professional cooperation. Friday, Dec 7. was the day. Thanks to Bob Lewis for the photos.
Every Thursday at 9 a.m. a group of Friends volunteers will work on the Refuges and in the area to control Brazilian Pepper plants. Last Thursday was the first work day. Seven volunteers and Vic Doig, their Refuge coordinator met at the West entrance to the Lukens Tract. The morning started out in the low 40's but the sun was out so things warmed up nicely for work out in the bush. The tide was also way out this morning. The crew could almost walk out to the surrounding islands.
Volunteers are needed every week. Call Roger at 352-543-5232 for information.
The State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced the purchase of a conservation easement over approximately 19,225 acres in Dixie County within the Lower Suwannee River and Gulf Watershed Florida Forever project. Read More...
Government offices, including Refuge headquarters, are closed on Wednesday December 5 honoring former President George H. W. Bush.
The new interpretive panels are in place on the Shell Mound trail. In celebration, the Friends will have a Winter Solstice Gathering on Friday December 21. All are welcome. At 4 p.m., we will meet at the parking area near the fishing pier. We will walk the trail, then go to the fishing pier to watch the sunset.
Last year, it was a cold and foggy Winter Solstice at Shell Mound. It was, nevertheless, rather mystical being there. We will hope for better weather this year, and even if we don't get it, we will celebrate the place, its heritage, and the joy of having a Refuge to protect it for us and for the future.
The weather was perfect (as it usually is this time of year) when eight Friends members and one newcomer to the area did a major “clean, trim and repair” of the River Trail at the Refuge.
What a team!! All was accomplished in 3 hours and in parting, “Happy Thanksgiving” was common refrain along with comments that it was an enjoyable way to contribute to the Refuge. We were thankful for the chance. Come and share the beauty!
Thanks to Board member Ed DeHaan for the photos.
The Eastern Black Rail is a small, secretive marsh bird that is in steep decline. Some populations along the Atlantic coast have dropped by as much as 90 percent. With a relatively small total population remaining across the eastern United States, the Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the subspecies as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. We have this bird on the Lower Suwannee Refuge. Read more here.
If you have been curious about hunting on the Lower Suwannee Refuge, here are the data on hunting days during the 2018-2019 season. The Lower Suwannee Refuge hosts more hunting days than most refuges in the Southeast Region of the Refuge System, which includes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
A State of Florida hunting license is required to hunt on the Lower Suwannee Refuge, as well as a Refuge permit. You get both the license and the permit through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Refuge permit code is 7800.
You can read or download a copy of the 2018-2019 Lower Suwannee Hunt Brochure here.
On Saturday October 6, Friends President Bill Dummitt helped lead a Nature Walk for a group of scouts from Alachua on the Dennis Creek Trail.
If you are going out to walk this picturesque trail, you can download a free copy of the Friends trail guide from this website.
The Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys Refuges will soon lose our only law enforcement officer, with little hope of getting a replacement. The whole National Wildlife Refuge System will lose one-fifth of its law enforcement officers at the end of the year.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced on September 21 that all “dual-function” law enforcement officers will be stripped of their badges. Our own Deputy Manager Larry Woodward is a dual-function officer, which means he has law enforcement authority as well as being a manager. Kenny McCain started as dual-function and then became full-time law enforcement. They are the models of dual-function officers.
As Friends of the Refuges, we are very concerned about being without a law enforcement officer. We are equally concerned that, without dual-function officers like Larry, the culture of enforcement on remote, rural refuges like ours will change. The change will move the Refuge and its community away from shared concern for the natural resources that drive our economy and way of life. This change in law enforcement structure is bad for the Refuges, our communities, and all the people who spend time on these public lands
It would be useful to voice your concerns and suggestions about Refuge law enforcement with those in the chain of responsibility for safety on these public lands. In addition to your federal representatives, you can let Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Fish and Wildlife Service Director Jim Kurth, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System Cynthia Martinez, and Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System David Viker know your thoughts. You may remember meeting David Viker and his family when they came to Friends 2016 Annual Meeting. David grew up in Bronson. His first experience on a refuge was as a volunteer at the Lower Suwannee.
UPDATE: Two members who wrote to Secretary Zinke at the email address we provide report that it bounced. We are looking for one that does not and will update again soon.
In June, July, August, and September, Friends staffed the Welcome Desk at the Refuge headquarters building each Monday and Tuesday. In October, volunteers for be at the desk at least from 10 to 1 each day that the headquarters building is open. If you could come out and volunteer for a few hours one or two days in October, email email@example.com.
Sam Shine, retired CEO of Samtec, has given the people of the Big Bend region an amazing gift --- 6,200 acres of pine land property that abuts St Mark's National Wildlife Refuge on its north side. All the water that flows across St Mark's comes through this property. The land has a market value of about $9 million, but to those of us who cherish the Big Bend as it is, this land is priceless.
Dan Frisk, our Complex Manager, said "It rarely happens that we get large tracts of land, especially land that’s already started to be restored. And, since it joins our property, we now own all the land from the gulf up to the coastal highway. So that’s pretty cool."
You can read more about it in this press release:
Earth Day at the Refuge, championed by board member Bob Lewis, is featured in the first issue of The Link. The Link is an electronic newsletter highlighting outstanding events and programs by Friends groups around the nation. Great event Bob!
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Visitors are welcome to walk or bicycle around yellow Refuge gates.
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"Escape to the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge" video by Visit Florida