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!
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.
The Refuge is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Visitors are welcome to walk or bicycle around yellow Refuge gates.
We have a monthly email News Brief
Like us on Facebook
"Escape to the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge" video by Visit Florida