Friends board members recently met at Vista with architects from a Jacksonville firm, LOCI, specializing in historical renovation to determine if the proposed Cook's House renovation was realistic and achievable. Their assessment was positive and encouraging.
Subsequently, as a followup to an earlier visit to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park, several board members visited the Forest Capital Museum State Park in Perry recently to gather ideas for interpretative materials and displays that might be useful eventually at Vista.
They also met with Tom Baird president of Friends of St Mark's National Wildlife Refuge. Tom led their Friends' efforts to restore the St. Mark's Lighthouse. Much of the funding came from the Florida Division of Historical Resources, the same agency that has provided us with our two grants. We learned that they also had to do a lot of private fund raising to complete the project. It was a useful meeting.
Since we were making the trip to St. Mark's, several of the board and others decided to spend a couple of nights and a day together, at our own expense, at The Lodge at Wakulla Springs. Our meetings have continued to be on Zoom and we never get to be together. We miss the face to face time to get to know each other. It was a very enjoyable time. We even played charades (not very well), went on a cold, morning river cruise and a walk in the woods.
It was an added bonus that The Lodge is about the same age as the Vista buildings and clearly put to modern use while maintaining its classic integrity and charm.
Friends is again welcoming visitors to Cedar Key to learn about and spend time at the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys NWRs. On Tuesday Jan 17, Friends members Katy and Ford Gerritt staffed the desk at the Chamber of Commerce. Volunteers will be there on Friday Jan 20, Sat. Jan 21, and Sat. Feb 4. We could use more volunteers. Visitors have questions all the time. Pick your day, Our usual time to be there is 10 to 2, but that is flexible. We'd like to cover all Saturdays and at least one other day each week. Can you help?
If you might consider helping with this project and want to see how it works, stop by one of the times when there is a volunteer and hang out for a while to see if you would enjoy it, or email email@example.com.
Cedar Keys Audubon is pleased to announce a presentation by Janell Brush, FWC research scientist, titled “Between Paradise and Peril: A Story of American Oystercatcher Persistence in the Cedar Keys” to be held Monday, January 23, 2023, 5pm at the Cedar Key Community Center.
The Cedar Keys are home to a small resident breeding population of American Oystercatchers. This population increases to over a thousand birds during the fall and winter with the arrival of winter migrants. The matrix of oyster reefs and small sand/shell islands provide ideal habitats for breeding and nonbreeding oystercatchers.
Food is plentiful in the Cedar Keys, but nesting habitats are limited to a few small offshore islands, making every nesting area critical for conservation and population gains. The winter population depends on optimal high-tide roosts that are offshore, higher in elevation, and free of woody vegetation that can harbor predators. A single high tide roost can provide essential habitat for over 5% of the entire population of American Oystercatchers. These critical high-tide roosts are few and are declining and degrading.
Janell will present over a decade of research into the importance and function of foraging, roosting, and breeding habitats for the American Oystercatcher and recent results that are an early conservation warning for the species.
Janell is originally from Nebraska. She received her B.S. from the University of Nebraska (1998) and an M.S. from the University of Florida (2006). She is an associate research scientist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission where she has managed avian research projects and grants for over 15 years. Janell leads the FWC research and monitoring efforts for shorebirds, seabirds, and eagles.
The Cedar Key Public Library has a popular annual Lecture Series with presentations on most Thursdays and Saturdays in the winter and spring. Friends board member John Thalacker and other community leaders work on a committee with the library manager to recruit speakers on topics of community interest. Several are scheduled that relate to the Refuges and to Friends interests, including: