Friends of Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs and the Paynes Prarie Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society will hold a native plant walk on the Lower Suwannee Refuge on Saturday November 19 at 10 a.m. All are welcome.
Meet at Gate 14 along the Lower Suwannee Wildlife Refuge Nature Drive. The gate is about 7 miles from the south entrance to the Nature Drive, off Rte 347. Refuge gates are yellow and numbered. The GPS coordinates for Gate 14 are 29.351035, -83.052415. Click here for a map of the entire Refuge. Click here for a guide to the Nature Drive, which notes Gate 14.
The walk is 1/2 mile long on a compacted secondary Refuge road that is grassy and muddy in spots. Sunny open flatwoods transition to shady floodplain and the road ends with a view of the Suwannee River.
Cell service is poor in the area. Ticks are abundant if you venture off the mowed road. Sand gnats or mosquitoes might be a nuisance depending on the amount of breeze. Despite those adventure-related issues, it promises to be a lovely walk.
Cedar Key had perfect weather for the Festival and the crowds were abundant. Hundreds visited our booth at the park. Friends gave away maps and brochures to more than 50 families who planned to visit sites on the Lower Suwannee Refuge.
Many visitors also bought our shirts, hats, and earrings, helping to support our projects and our refuge advocacy. We greatly appreciate their financial support and the fact that they increase awareness of the refuges when they wear our merchandise.
The enthusiasm that visitors expressed for our Junior Ranger program was welcome. It is being developed now and will be launched soon. Folks who are already familiar with the refuges also gave helpful feedback on ideas for future programs and also ways to enhance access and interest for people not yet familiar with the area.
Thanks to all for the conversations, the purchases, and the ideas.
On October 10th, Refuge lovers set off with our expert guide Barbara Woodmansee for a perfect morning of fall butterfly watching on Barnett Creek Road. As soon as the sun came up over the trees, a Monarch welcomed us and then the action really began. We saw 26 species of butterflies, including lots of Gulf Fritillaries, Long-tailed skippers, Queens and many others. Fall is a wonderful time to see butterflies in the Refuge and Barnett Creek Road never disappoints. We look forward to another walk together in early April for Spring butterflies next year. Details TBA.
The day was weather perfect for the last Open House of 2022. About 150 visitors came out the 3-mile trip from Cedar Key to Seahorse Key. They came in shuttles operated by the local tour boats, in their personal boats, many after a morning of fishing, and they even came on family-size jet skis.
The visitors enjoyed the touch tanks and lab tours in the Nature Coast Biological Station area. They toured the light station, learning about its history since the Second Seminole Indian War, and they walked the beach on the far side of the island taking pictures and watching birds.
A short history of the light station is available here on lighthousefriends.com.