Updated: January 21, 2021
In coordination with Dixie County managers and Roads Department, the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge will need to extend the closure of the Dixie Mainline thru the end of the day on Friday, February 5, 2021. We apologize to the residents of Dixie County for this inconvenience. The work is roadside right-of-way and overhead tree cutting. Heavy equipment will block the road while the work is conducted. Please notify your friends and family. Any questions call/text the refuge manager, Andrew at 703|622.3896 or Mr. Hutch at 352|210-8899.
Here is the new slate to be presented for a vote at the Annual Meeting, Their short bios are available on the Meet the Board page.
President -- Peg Hall
President-elect -- Debbie Meeks
Immediate Past President -- John McPherson
Treasurer -- Linda Kimball
Secretary -- Bill Dummitt
Several current directors were elected last year for a two-year term and therefore they continue in position until the Annual Meeting in 2022.
One long-time director is stepping down this year. We are grateful to
for all her work for Friends over the years.
Now you can purchase our t-shirts and hats from home using an online store, friendsofrefuges.org/store. We are opening with our most popular shirts and hats but we will expand into earrings, mugs and more in the future so come back often or make a request at firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to the pandemic, board members are shipping out of our homes so on-site pickup is not available.
Eleven volunteers made this project a reality. Thanks Everyone!
As with most events in 2020, and so far in 2021, the much-anticipated Friends Annual Membership Meeting will not be an in-person gathering at the Refuge Headquarters, and the delectable McCain’s BBQ will not be served.
However, fear not, on February 27th there will be an annual meeting and creative minds are working hard to come up with an informative and enjoyable E-vent. Imagine if you will an easy-to-access Zoom meeting with an agenda not unlike last year’s. It will feature current president, John McPherson, and president-elect Peg Hall to provide updates on the many things still being accomplished by the Friends organization during life in a pandemic. Refuge Manager Andrew Gude will give an update as well. There will be the usual business issues such as financial reports, election of 2021 board of directors, updates on programs including the Vista Project (remember the tour from last year), along with interesting presentations by experts on a variety of topics. And not to disappoint, a report on the travels of Suwannee the Swallow-tail Kite will be given. Lots of newsy stuff will also be passed along about activities such as the launching of the online store and the updated website. This format will allow for Zoom Rooms where smaller groups can join-in for more in-depth discussions.
So, stay tuned for emails that will explain how to sign up for the meeting and also keep an eye out for a survey to precede the meeting to help organizers ensure a responsive agenda. If there are topics you would like covered, send suggestions to email@example.com
We reported in November that the board of Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs decided to hold off on signing a Partnership Agreement required by the Washington office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in order to become affiliated with their official Friends program. (See that announcement here.) A new Policy Manual will be issued soon by FWS and we want to see it before we commit to signing and thus agreeing to what it requires.
At the end of December, Friends of Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs received a letter from FWS stating that:
Since your organization has decided not to sign the Agreement, the partnership, heretofore, existing between the Friends and Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is officially dissolved by mutual consent. (The full letter is here.)
We responded that:
To the best of our knowledge our Friends group has never had a formal agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, nor agreed to participate in the Service’s internal Friends program. Thus, there is no mutually agreed upon partnership to dissolve by mutual consent. (Our full response is here.)
We have been working with board members of other Friends groups from around the country to assure that FWS hears our concerns about policy issues and avoids infringing on our legal responsibilities as 501(c)(3) corporations chartered by our states and approved by the IRS. Peg Hall, John Thalalcker, Debbie Meeks, Dan Kline, and Jay Bushnell from Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRS have all participated national zoom webinars sponsored by the Coalition of Refuge Friends and Advocates and the National Association of Wildlife Refuges. Each zoom meeting had almost 200 participants, indicating the strength of concern among Friends groups.
Soon, FWS will release the draft of the new Policy Manual. There will be another national zoom meeting to discuss it. Our Friends group will participate and will subsequently respond to the Call for Public Comments.
Sharing information with FWS is not a problem. All our board meetings are open to the public. Minutes are posted to our website, as are annual financial summaries. Financial statements are available. We are however resistant to reformatting our information for their purposes. They estimate that would require 212 hours of work. And we are resistant if the FWS' policy indicates that it is likely to infringe on the management and financial roles of our board.
Hopefully, working with so many other Friends groups, we will be able to have changes made so we can get past this issue and put our time to other productive uses.