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!
Last year Alan Davidson decided to spend his work-sponsored volunteer days at the Refuge and wrote this wonderful post about it. Another year flew by and Alan was back in May to work with Debbie Meeks on the Dixie side trimming branches along secondary roads and picking up litter.
As they worked Alan told stories about his life growing up in the area and coming to Suwannee while Debbie filled Alan in on current town and Refuge events. They found a couple of surprises, a big serene pond off the Natural Pine Forest trail and a gator chillin' under the surface of a smaller pond.
Your cell phone's location service and a downloaded PDF map is all you need with offline maps apps like Avenza. Daniel Barrand, Refuge Forester, made this PDF of the Lock-Shingle Paddling trail that makes it easier to explore our Refuges. Look for more offline PDF maps in the future.
Friends member, Brad Wiley, spruced up the Friends booth with some of his highly detailed bird carvings at the first Suwannee Art Festival.
We had a great time meeting and chatting with neighbors and nature lovers about the unspoiled area we love.
Earth Day began in 1970 to focus attention on conservation of our natural resources. Come celebrate the 48th Earth Day as Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges presents three informative expert presentations: April 20th, 2018, 9:15am - 12:00pm
Location: Lower Suwannee Wildlife Refuge Office Complex, Highway 347 at 16540 NW 31st Place, Chiefland, FL 32625.
Free. All welcomed.
Our three experts cover marine mammals, fisheries, and the health of our rivers
9:15 - “Marine Mammals and Marine Debris”, presented by MacKenzie Russell of University of Florida.
10:15 - “How FWC Manages Marine Fisheries”, presented by Hannah Healey of Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
11:15 - “Water Quality Monitoring - How, Where, When, and You”, presentation by John Quarterman of the WWALS Watershed Coalition (Suwannee Riverkeepers)
Attend one or all presentations. Other nearby recreational opportunities include the River Walk, Tram Ridge Trail, and Shell Mound.
Travelers on the Dixie Mainline, one of the favorite trails on the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, can now enjoy new bridge murals by Old Town resident Clint Wynns.
Wynns, a 66-year-old former professional chainsaw carver always wanted to paint murals to enhance the Mainline bridges. He hunts in the Refuge every day from archery through regular gun season and is always looking for ways to help out on the land he knows so well. Yet he hesitated because he thought a mural would attract graffiti and didn’t want to waste his time. When Debbie Meeks decorated one of the bridges with an alligator painting last year—and it went unmolested—he decided to try.
Clint says his ideas just come to him. “Hogs and deer because that’s the Refuge. Then there are turtles, a manatee, and an alligator. Someone suggested an otter so I added one.”
He cuts templates out of thin luan plywood. This technique shortens the amount of time he spends on the bridge. First he tapes up the inner shape and paints the background. Then he reverses the template by taking down the inner shape and protecting his painted background with the surrounding plywood sheet while painting the animal. Once the whole painting is dry he ties both pieces of the template together which allows him to spray paint the cut line for a dark outline without hand tracing.
"So many people have stopped while I was working—all classes of people—to tell me how much they appreciate what I’m doing. Kids get out to look and I show them how they can help.” Clint says.
More murals are needed. You can adopt a bridge by calling Larry Woodward, Deputy Refuge Manager, at 352-493-0238.
With an estimated 150-170 attendees, good weather, great food, a flash sale of logo merchandise, and the all-time favorite speaker, University of Florida archaeologist Dr. Ken Sassaman, the March 10 event met and exceeded all our expectations.
Save the Date: The Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges Annual Meeting and Refuge Open House will be
Saturday, February 23, 2019
We all know Shell Mound, or so we think!
However, as our featured speaker, Dr. Ken Sassaman of the University of Florida, may change our minds about what we think we know. He has amazing new information for us about this site in our backyard, on our own Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge. A few of the amazing details --
Soft-Opening of the Expanded Interpretive Trail
After lunch, those of us who want to, we will travel on our own to Shell Mound. The new interpretive trail has nine stations. Interpretive panels are in preparation for each station. They will not be ready for this soft-opening. However, we will have docents at each station to explain what is important about the spot. Six of the nine stations are along the current Shell Mound trail. The other three are along a new piece of trail that will need to be more substantially developed over the next year.
Friends will have laid it out well enough for walking it but it will not really be ready for prime time yet by the Annual Meeting. Docents will be able to provide much of the story from a location on the developed trail for any who want to skip this more primitive trail section. The entire Shell Mound trail will remain less than a mile in length.
The trip to Shell Mound will conclude the Annual Meeting for this year, and hopefully be the beginning of many more visits to the site by all of us over the coming year.
Soon the Shell Mound Archaeology Trail will have new interpretive panels. The ones in the photos above are draft versions. But, they will not be ready in time for the soft-opening of the trail on the afternoon of the Friends Annual Meeting, March 10.
Therefore, we need 10 volunteers who will stand along the trail for about an hour during the opening. Each volunteer will talk to the Friends who come from the Annual Meeting about the information that will be on the interpretive panel at that spot.
Training and a narrative will be provided.
Are you willing to be one of the volunteers, a human interpretive panel? Contact us at email@example.com!
At the Friends Annual Meetings, we have held several varieties of fund raising events. We auctioned off kayaks, first edition nature books signed by the authors, nature-art pieces, and dinners prepared by Refuge Manager Andrew Gude. We had photo contests and bid on the photos. We had silent auctions.
Always, we have also had our Friends promotional merchandise, with our logo and name for sale in hopes of building awareness about the Refuges in our midst.
This year, we will have a FLASH SALE on all our Friends merchandise. All of our merchandise has paid for itself long ago and what we sell at the Annual Meeting will go straight to helping us run the Friends programs this year.
What does Friends spend money on? Primarily, on printing of maps, brochures, and trail guides for Refuge visitors, on the Annual Meeting, and on the software we use to maintain our databases and produce our publications.
Bring lots of cash or checks and be ready for amazing bargains on beautiful Friends shirts, earrings, and paddling guides.
But Wait! Maybe we will also have a Limited Silent Auction. If we could have not more than 12 nature-related items contributed that would appropriately have a starting bid of about $25, we would like to have a Limited Silent Auction. If you have an item to contribute that would fit that bill, please contact a Board member or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Nominations Committee has set a Slate of Officers and Directors. It will be presented to the members for a vote at the Annual Meeting on Saturday March 10. Terms of office extend from annual meeting to annual meeting. The dates in parenthesis indicate the year when a term will expire at the annual meeting. Short profiles of each current and proposed Board member are on the Board page of the website.
Bill Dummitt (2019)
John McPherson (2019)
Russ Hall (2019)
Mackenzie Russell (2020)
Ed DeHaan (2019)
Presented for Re-election
Libby Cagle (2020)
Debbie Meeks (2020)
Margy Van Landingham (2020)
Presented as New Board Members
Bob Lewis (2020)
Miriam Wiley (2020)
Directors Whose Terms Continue for Another year
Jim Hoy (2019)
Debbie Jordan (2019)
Dan Kline (2019)
Kit Lane (2019)
Doug Maple (2019)
Roger McDaniels (2019)
John Thalacker (2019)
Linda Tyson (2019)
Directors Leaving the Board
Famed nature photographer, Clyde Butcher has been visiting and photographing our Refuges. As announced a few weeks ago, he visited Cedar Key March 3 and promised he will be doing more work here in the future.
On Thursday, February 22 a group of us will be meeting at 9 am at the Shell Mound trailhead to spend a couple of hours working on the new archaeological trail.
Much of the new trail follows the older, developed trails. But a couple of hundred yards is newly laid out, and covers an undeveloped section that skirts the hollow interior of the crescent-shaped mound.
The photo above shows the area where a trail needs to be created.Work will include clearing low vegetation from the trail and removing snags and fallen branches that obscure important archaeological features.
Please join us. Sturdy shoes, long pants and sleeves, work gloves, hats, insect repellent, and drinking water are all recommended. Also, if you have ready access to pruning saws, loppers, rakes, or other simple tools, bring them along. If you don’t have tools, don’t worry, there will be plenty of work for you.
Refuge staff assisted the State archaeologist in the removal of human remains recently discovered on Seahorse Key.
The Refuge staff continue the planning and research to determine the best way to restore hydrology across the Lower Suwannee Refuge into the Gulf. The natural flow was altered decades ago by timbering. Restoration would likely be a significant enhancement to habitat for the local wildlife, fish, and shellfish populations.
Longtime refuge hunter and part-time refuge mural painter, Clint Wynn, has been adding beauty along the Dixie Mainline. Thanks from all of us, Clint.
Now that the weather has warmed up and we’ve had rain, we should start to see flowers blooming in the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge! On our walk last month, the only flowers we saw blooming were tiny violets. Even so, there was plenty of bird activity and we even saw butterflies, including one monarch trying to nectar on a tiny violet!
If you have any questions or would like to meet us in the refuge rather than Cedar Key Town Park, please email me at email@example.com or call me at 352-543-6738.
I hope to see you Friday!
FLORIDA’S WILD LANDSCAPES THROUGH THE LENS OF CLYDE BUTCHER
Florida Humanities Council - Community Projects grant and Cedar Key Arts Center present an event focused on Florida’s most iconic landscape photographer, Clyde Butcher. Clyde will share hand-selected images honed for the Nature Coast audience and present a lecture about his photography.
SEATING/TICKETS: Seats are free for the lecture, but limited because of the room’s size. Reserve your seat and get your tickets by visiting Eventbrite.com. Both venues are handicapped assessable. Street parking is available.
The Refuge is open daily from dawn to dusk.
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