One of the Mainline bridges has a new mural. Debbie Meeks fed a few hungry sand gnats while painting this alligator with a red reflector eye.
Work continues restore the natural hydrology of the Lower Suwannee Refuge in order to enhance wildlife habitat and improve fresh water flow into the River and estuary. The staff members are looking at impediments to natural hydrology. Where their removal would be a net gain for the wildlife, changes are planned.
At the end of September, plans were first mentioned for a new Friends Visitor Contact Program.
Plans are moving ahead. All Friends members received an email in mid-October asking if they might be willing to greet visitors at the headquarters a few days a month. About 30 members have already signed up to help develop and participate in the pilot program. Any who can will meet with Refuge staff members on Wednesday November 8 to talk through the initial plans and work on materials the volunteers will need so they can provide useful information.
This year, Camper Volunteers will also participate. If that program piques your curiosity, check out the FWS Volunteers page or Resident Volunteers Opportunity page.
November issue of the Cedar Keys Audubon Avocet
The Cedar Key Public Library, Cedar Key Friends and the Cedar Key Arts Center are partnering to bring a program to the library on Wednesday, November 15 at 5 p.m. featuring two speakers from The Veterans Art Center Tampa Bay, which is instrumental in the upcoming show at the Cedar Key Arts Center titled "WARRIORS."
Major John McKitrick (Operations Director VACTB) & Staff Sgt. John Katerberg (both retired from the U.S. Army). They will speak about the Center and the creative opportunities offered for reintegration into civilian life. The opening for the show at the Arts Center till take place on November 18.
The Veterans Art Center Tampa Bay, Inc. (VACTB) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing opportunities for military and veterans to develop and showcase creative and artistic accomplishments. As veterans and their families transition to civilian life, the Veterans Art Center is supportive of their need for creative outlets as well as the need for economic opportunities.
On warm days that were predicted to be cool and rainy, volunteers David Davis, Jay Bushnell, Donna Bushnell, Bob Hudson, Judy Johnson, Andrew Gude, Russ Hall, Peg Hall, John McPherson, and Margy VanLandingham talked with many, many visitors to the Friends Booth at the Cedar Key Seafood Festival on October 21 and 22. It was a grand opportunity to spread the word about supporting wildlife within our two refuges. The dedication to our unbelievable environment here in Cedar Key and around the Suwannee River basin is impressive.
Introduction to the Lone Cabbage Oyster Reef Restoration Project
Thursday, October 26, 7:00 p.m.
Community Center, 809 6th
Street, Cedar Key
In less than 30 years, 3,000 year old oyster reefs off Florida’s Big Bend coastline have declined by 88 percent, according to University of Florida/IFAS researchers. For residents who depend on the fishing grounds and other coastal resources protected by these reefs, it’s a worrying trend. Now, with an award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, a UF/IFAS research team will work to restore these shrinking oyster reefs and help coastal ecosystems and economies become more resilient in the face of climate change and rising tides.
The “Recovery and Resilience of Oyster Reefs in the Big Bend of Florida” project will target the Lone Cabbage reef chain in the Suwannee Sound.
The UF/IFAS team plans to restore up to 32 acres (encompassing about 3 linear miles) of reef.
Peter Frederick, Bill Pine and Leslie Sturmer are the primary investigators for the grant.
They will talk about their research, which shows that the decline of oysters in the Big Bend region is due to increasing salinity levels in estuaries, which is where freshwater from rivers mixes with ocean salt water. Oysters need intermediate salinities, and have die offs as they get stressed by prolonged periods of high salinity.
Oyster reefs are long linear chains, that serve as leaky dams, keeping freshwater near the coast. As oyster reefs die off and lose elevation, more ocean water mixes with fresh, boosting salinity. Reefs made up of dead oysters eventually disintegrate into sandbars. Oysters can’t establish on sand, so the reef can’t regenerate. The UF/IFAS project wants to break this cycle by encouraging new oysters to recolonize areas where reefs have degraded. To do that, researchers will install limestone boulders covered in a layer of oyster and clam shell, materials that readily attract new oysters.
An introduction to the Lone Cabbage Oyster Reef Restoration Project will be held on Thursday, October 26, starting at 7 p.m., at the Community Center, 809 6th Street, Cedar Key. Frederick,
Pine and Sturmer will provide further information on the background of the project, problems with offshore reefs and why they have declined over the past decades, results of the pilot study
conducted in 2011-12, and a time line for the new project. A question and answer session will follow over coffee and desserts. For further information about the meeting, contact Leslie Sturmer, with the UF/IFAS Shellfish Extension Program, at 352-543-5057 or Lnst@ufl.edu.
To learn more about this project, visit http://www.wec.ufl.edu/oysterproject/
Suwannee Community Center, 23465 SE Hwy 349 (opposite the Salt Creek Restaurant)
Wednesday, October 18 at 8:30 am
Boat, walk or ride your golf cart to help de-litter the roads and waterways around the village of Suwannee. Refuge staff will transport volunteers down the river from Fowlers Bluff, there is room for 16 onboard.
Free smoked chicken lunch provided by Jerry Everett of the Waterfront Market.
Contact: Debbie Meeks 352-278-5088
RSVP for the Fowlers Bluff boat ride
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The official government websites of the Refuges
"Escape to the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge" video by Visit Florida