Read more at Swallow-tailed Kite Migration: a ten thousand tile odyssey
The Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs is helping support the satellite tracking of a Swallow-tailed Kite as it migrates from the Refuge to Brazil.
Read more at Swallow-tailed Kite Migration: a ten thousand tile odyssey
George talked us through his expansive, inspiring vision of the Big Bend Conservation effort, with detailed data on its history and current status, on key land areas for needed conservation, on key players, and on the role that the Lower Suwannee and other Refuges could play in the effort to keep the Big Bend as a driver for the regional economy and quality of life.
George was a man who made a difference in all our lives, even those of us who never were lucky enough to meet him personally.
Clay Henderson, a lawyer and professor at Stetson University, was quoted in Politico as saying that only Teddy Roosevelt conserved more land in Florida than George did. He was involved in about half a million acres of land deals.
George's obituary can be found here.
During the January 2019 government shutdown, vandals defaced one of the Lower Suwannee Refuge's main directional signs. Friends members made temporary repairs.
Finally, the permanent repair is in place. Thanks to the Friends members who kept all of us from having to live with the vandalism from January until July!
Thanks to Friends former president Maria Sgambati for forwarding this YouTube of swallow-tailed kites. And thanks to Raymond Powers for taking and posting the video!
The birds were gathering on a farm near the Refuge in Gilchrist County in preparation for their migration. Friends is supporting the tracking of one swallow-tailed kite on its migration this year. Maybe ours is in this group! See the video here.
For Release on Monday, 15 July 2019
Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge in Chiefland, Florida is Accepting Comments on Hunting Permit Fees ….
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) is accepting public comments on increasing the yearly hunter access fee for hunting on the Refuge. The current fee is $15.00 and we are proposing a $10.00 increase to $25.00 for the 2020-2021 season. The recreational fees will be retained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a part of the Recreational Fee Program and used for road maintenance as part of the administration of the hunting program. The Refuge maintains 194 miles of public driving and secondary grass road/trails accessible by walking or biking, providing public access to some of the most remote parts of the Refuge.
Since 1981, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has had authority to collect recreation fees. Since 1997, the Service has been able to retain fees collected at the station, first under the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program and then, in 2004, under the authority of Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). The FLREA was established to provide funding for recreation program improvements. Typical projects paid for by recreation fee funds include road and parking lot maintenance, brochures, envelopes, handling and mailings of hunt information, trail improvements, and salaries for law enforcement.
A fee analysis has been done by Refuge staff and these fees are proposed based on what nearby entities and National Wildlife Refuges are requesting. The refuge is proposing to make these fee changes effective next year’s hunt season.
We are interested in hearing from you regarding the proposed new fee requirement and are requesting public comments beginning 15 July through 15 August 2019. Please submit any comments by email (firstname.lastname@example.org; Subject Line: “Hunt Fee Comment”), phone (352.492.0238 x224), or mail (Hunt Fee Comments c/o Andrew Gude, 16450 NW 31st Place, Chiefland, FL 32626) on the proposed fee changes.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with us on the web at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/lower_suwannee/, our Friends of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge website http://www.friendsofrefuges.org/, our Facebook pages at www.facebook.com/usfwssoutheast, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwssoutheast.
Andrew G. Gude
Office 352.493.0238 x224 | Cell 703.622.3896
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge System
Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWR: 16450 NW 31st. Place, Chiefland, Florida 32626
The Re-lighting Ceremony was a centerpiece in three days of Fourth of July Celebrations in Cedar Key. Despite a misty rain, music, residents, and visitors filled Second Street starting at 7 on Friday evening July 5th. The local merchants created a festive, convivial atmosphere for the red-white-and-blue wearing crowds.
As dark was arriving, everyone gathered at G and First Street. Mayor Heather Davis harkened to the days when his grandfather used the Cedar Key Light Station to get home from sea. County Commissioner John Meeks pointed out that no one alive today has seen the light turned on, until those of us gathered do on this night. Refuge Manager Andrew Gude told us that our Nature Coast is the longest, darkest, most undeveloped coastline in the contiguous US. NCBS Director told us how we managed to get the funding to relight the Cedar Key Light Station on Seahorse Key National Wildlife Refuge. With the help of the Historical Society's Carol McQueen, the last woman to live at the Light Station, Catherine Hobday came to life and told her story. Anna Hodges executive director of the Cedar Key Historical Society led the "flash mob" in singing the Star Spangled Banner.
At 9:30, Captain Kenny McCain and Refuge Deputy Manager Larry Woodward, out on Seahorse Key, flipped the switch and all of us on shore celebrated the lighting with sparklers and fireworks launched from boats in the channel. Read more in Cedar Key News.
Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges will be welcoming visitors to the beach during the Seahorse Key Open House from 9:00 to 3:00 on Saturday, July 6 and again on Saturday October 19. Be sure to hike up to the Light Station, cross over to its far side, and come down to the beach to say hello. The beach is a wondrous place. Volunteers at the Friends tent will answer your questions and you can walk along the beach to explore.
Seahorse Key is one of the 13 islands that make up the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge was established in 1929 to protect what may have been as many as 200,000 birds that came to Seahorse Key and the other islands for roosting, courting, and nesting. The protection was necessary at the time because massive numbers of birds had been killed in the 1800s for their plumage, which was used to make ladies' hats. Before the sudden abandonment of the Seahorse Key rookery in April 2017, there were still tens of thousands birds nesting there. Only a few have returned to Seahorse Key, but many birds have established a rookery on nearby, smaller Snake Key. It has almost reached its capacity.
Seahorse Key is the home of the Cedar Key Light Station, which will be open to visit during the Open House. Under a special use permit arrangement with the Refuge, the University of Florida manages about three acres of Seahorse Key, including the Light Station, for marine research. Visitors can also visit the research building during the Open House.
There is no charge to attend the Open House once you get to the island. Access to Seahorse Key is available to the public through Tidewater Tours, Cedar Key Boat Rentals and Island Tours, or you can come in your private boat during the open houses which happen about four times a year.
Following in the footsteps of the native people of our area, a group of Friends and staff of the Lower Suwannee Refuge gathered to celebrate summer solstice. Unlike the cold and blustery weather when we gathered in December to celebrate the winter solstice, this morning was delightfully breezy and warm. The photos show the progression of the sunrise.
To learn more about Solstice Feasts and Other Gatherings at Shell Mound, see the linked article by Dr. Ken Sassaman.
Who is Nesting on Snake Key this Season?
The mixed species wading bird rookery at Snake Key is thriving this year. The numbers of birds are beginning to approximate the "glory days" of nesting at the recently abandoned Seahorse Key colony. Refuge staff and volunteers completed the annual wading bird flight line surveys for the Snake Key rookery in May. White Ibis have returned to nest in the area in huge numbers, with an estimated 2,500 - 3,000 nesting pairs. Also nesting in large numbers are Tri-colored Herons (est. 500 nests), Snowy Egrets (est. 400 nests), Great Egrets (est. 120 nests), Brown Pelicans (est. 100 nests), and Double Crested Cormorants (est. 200 nests). Other notables include an estimated 60 Roseate Spoonbill nests and 3-4 Reddish Egret nesting pairs. We also recently completed drone flights over the colony in an effort to count and validate nesting data, but have not yet completed digital post-processing to begin analyzing that information.
Speaking of Babies – An Aside
Project Engineer Josh Havird - formerly of Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, now posted at St Mark's NWR is a brand new proud papa of a baby girl. Mom and little Emily are both doing great. Josh is taking some family leave to be with them.
Closure Limits Nesting Disturbances at Snake Key
Largest Wading Bird Rookery
Do Different Bird Colonies have Unique Sounds?
What Happened to the Seahorse Key Rookery?
Most folks will recall that the large Seahorse Key rookery was suddenly abandoned during the nesting season back in April of 2015. Popular interest was so high that the national media covered "Our Bird Mystery" extensively. We still cannot definitively say why all the birds left their nests during that event, although disturbance was likely a factor.
Photo from Solstices Feasts and Other Gatherings, 2019 Adventures in Florida Archaeology. Topographic map shows the locality of Shell Mound with 3-D inset (lower right) of the C-shaped ridge and open plaza. Image by the author and Terry Barbour from both open-access LiDAR data and higher-resolution LiDAR data provided by GatorEye
The Refuge is open daily from dawn to dusk.
The Refuge Manager Andrew Gude can be reached by text or phone at 703.622.3896.
Refuge Information from the Refuge Manager
ALERT: WEATHER RELATED CHANGE
SEAHORSE KEY OPEN HOUSE will be on Sunday, October 20 from 9:00 to 3:00
Hunting Information from the Refuge Manager
The print version of the 2019-2020 Hunt Regulations Brochure is now available at Refuge headquarters. For an digital version,
Click on the Photo Below
For Information about getting a Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge Hunt Permit and a Deer Bag Report, Click Here
To Apply for a Permit to Hunt on the Lower Suwannee Refuge,
For a copy of the Deer Harvest Log, Click Here
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