Several Friends members have requested the opportunity to see again the presentations given at the Annual Meeting. The presentation by Immediate Past President Maria Sgambati and President Russell Hall is linked below on the left. Refuge Manager Andrew Gude's presentation is linked on the right. More about the Annual Meeting is in the post below this one.
For the first time in three years . . . It Did Not Rain! We had cool breezes in the morning as people began to arrive early to visit the Photo Contest, explore the Friends Booth, take a morning walk on the River Trail, and shoot the breeze with Friends' friends.
By 10:00 when the program was beginning, almost 100 people had taken their places in our Refuge pole barn, including Dan and Sheila Frisk who drove down from Tallahassee for the day. He is now the Manager of the Refuge Complex that includes our Refuges, St. Vincent, and St Mark's.
Outgoing president Maria Sgambati provided an overview of accomplishments of the past year and the financial status of Friends. Incoming president Russ Hall highlighted hopes and expectations for this next year. Former president Greg Lang presented the slate of officers and directors, asked for nominees from the floor, and led the members in the vote for the new board members. Refuge Manager Andrew Gude gave the feature presentation on The Lower Suwannee Refuge: Past, Present, and Future. The presentations are linked to the photos.
After lunch, catered by Treasure Camp of Fowlers Bluff, the results of the Photo Contest were announced. Twenty-nine photos were entered. More than half were sold in the silent auction, with the rest going back to their owners. The winners were:
In the afternoon, Refuge staff member Dalton Pelt provided a demonstration of techniques used in prescribed burns. Maria Sgambati and new board member Linda Tyson led a guided walk on the River Trail. Russ Hall led a walk on the Tram Ridge Loop Trail.
Many furry friends came this year.
The Refuge recently lost 2 of its fire crew to promotions within USFWS.
Anthony DiMaggio, a 10 year Lower Suwannee forestry technician, took a position at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City Beach as the FWS Fire Management Module Leader. He will be primarily involved with conducting prescribed burns at Tyndall and other Air Force installations.
Fire Equipment Operator, and new father, Josh Havird accepted a position as Assistant Fire Management Officer at St Marks NWR. At least Josh will still be in the North Florida NWR Complex, albeit some distance away.
Congratulations to these fine young men on their promotions and best of luck with their new assignments. These vacancies are frozen now, but we hope to replace these guys asap
The Refuge did gain one new face: Dalton Pelt joined the fire crew as a one-year term employee as part of a "Pathways" program internship while he completes his degree in Environmental Science at FSU. He brings a wealth of skills, and is the son of a familiar face: former LSNWR Fire Equipment Operator George Pelt. Welcome Dalton!
The Friends booth will be open for purchases when the doors open. We have the new Passports for the National Wildlife Refuges. Each of the more than 500 refuges is listed with a place for you to get a stamp from the refuge when you go to visit it. We also will have new t-shirts and other items for sale.
The program will begin at 10:00 AM and include an overview of Friends 2016 accomplishments and 2017 plans. The Slate of Officers and Directors will be elected.
After our always wonderful lunch (contributed desserts would be welcomed!), we will have guided walks of the River Trail and the Tram Ridge Trail, and a demonstration of our Bioblitz techniques.
Tues., February 21 @ 6 p.m. - Suwannee Baptist Church Fellowship Hall
Savanna Barry from the UF Nature Coast Biological Station in Cedar Key returns to talk to us about their seagrass monitoring program & why it is important to us in Suwannee and surrounding areas. Anyone who makes their living on the water or is interested in our natural environment is encouraged to attend. FREE program. Coffee & cookies.
Thurs., March 2 @ 6 p.m. - location TBA
UF/IFAS Researcher Peter Frederick will talk about ongoing work to restore shrinking oyster reefs and thereby help coastal ecosystems and economies become more resilient. FREE program. Anyone who makes their living on the water or is interested in our natural environment is encouraged to attend. Coffee & cookies.
For more information please contact Jane Connors at Suwannee Library Technical Center - email@example.com 352.542.8320.
At the Cedar Key Public Library
Jack Putz -- Coastal Ecosystem Change in Florida
Thurs., February 16 @ 5:00 p.m.
Dr. Jane Brockman -- Horseshoe Crabs
Sat., February 18 @ 10:30 a.m
Janell Brush and Joseph Marchionno -- Oystercatchers
Thurs., February 23 @ 5:00 p.m.
Vic Doig -- Florida Black Bears in the Big Bend
Thurs., March 2 @ 5:00 p.m.
The 2017 Friends Annual Meeting and Refuge Open House of the Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges will be on Saturday, March 4 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at Refuge Headquarters near Fowlers Bluff, off highway 347.
An overview of last year's Annual Meeting can be seen here.
Again this year, the Annual Meeting will feature a Photo Contest dedicated to the memory of the late Bill Killborn. Bill was a talented local photographer and web designer who donated many hours to the Friends group.
We are asking for donated photos to be judged and then auctioned off. Proceeds will fund Friends projects throughout the coming year.
Anyone is welcome to enter, regardless of Friends membership or level of photography experience. Entrants are invited to join Friends (your membership covers an excellent luncheon) but it is not required.
Guidelines for participating:
For further information please call Bill at 314-918-0720 or Anne at 573-341-8330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Natural Pine Forest trail, a feature marked B in the FWS Dixie Mainline Trail Guide is easier to hike thanks to Jason Coates and several Suwannee residents. This 1.2 mile long down-and-back trail has a variety of habitats including a fresh water pond and a marsh view of Shired Island at the end.
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The official government websites of the Refuges
"Escape to the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge" video by Visit Florida