Annual Meeting Success
The Bill Kilborn Photo Contest had 36 entries and sales of the entries brought almost $500 in revenue that will cover the cost of the new benches on the Tram Ridge Trail. Thanks to all the photographers and the bidders on the photos. Before they went up for sale, we all got to vote on our favorite photos. The winners were Ben West in first place, a tie in second by Ann Kamzelski and Frank Morgan, and Don Gambrell for 3rd place. The rest of us who entered were happy to be part of it, and to have many of our photos sold to help fund the benches.
The meeting itself was entertaining and got a nice write up in the Cedar Key News. Donna Bushnell led a fun installation of officers, as usual. Newly elected President Maria Sgambati highlighted the year's accomplishments and future plans. Featured speaker Dr. Tom Hoctor gave us an overview of the Big Bend of Florida as a key component of the state's conservation picture. Kenny McCain and lots of Friends members provided great lunch fare and desserts.
And then came lunch, with Kenny McCain's ribs and chicken, Bushnells' baked beans, lots of slaw, broccoli, and swamp cabbage, and desserts brought by the members.
By the time lunch ended, the sky had cleared. Nevertheless many of us chose to stay indoors and hear the presentation by Refuge staff about history, prescribed burning, sustainable forestry, and wildlife preservation. Friends member Jerry Lawrence, who provided the photos below, spoke for all of us saying he found the whole day to be highly informative, especially in regards to how the refuge was acquired over time, its strategic importance to wildlife and resource preservation in the State of Florida, and the vision to take care of the land and water for future generations.
Others of us walked the River Trail, or the Tram Ridge Trail with Friend member Donna Thalacker and President-elect Russ Hall as guides.
It was a great day and we are already looking forward to next year's event.
While we were updating the sign, it was interesting that a kayaker stopped and thanked us. Apparently, there has been some confusion as to where the Barnett Creek was located. This would especially be true if one was coming from the Gulf into Barnett Creek Bay or were launching from here and wondered how to get to Barrnett Creek. Geodetic maps show McCormick Creek actually branching off to the left when coming in from the Gulf. Where the launch is located is really Barnett Creek. (submitted by Jay Bushnell)
The Friends were saddened and stunned by the unexpected passing of board member, Bill Kilborn. He was a joy to be around. He freely gave many hours of his digital expertise to us and the community. He is missed but not forgotten.
Bill’s passion for photography inspired a Bill Kilborn Photo Contest for our Annual meeting on March 19th. We are asking for donated photos to be judged and auctioned off. The proceeds will be used to purchase benches memorializing Bill for our hiking trails.
Now, you do not have to be a professional photographer to participate. You do not even have to be a Friends member unless you want to experience the luncheon so get you camera ready!
Guidelines for participating:
Deadline for submitting photos is Thursday, March 17th.
Please submit your photos in a large sealed envelop with your name on the outside. You may drop it off at the Cedar Key Art Center, 257 Second St., mail it to Friends of the Lower Suwannee/Cedar Keys NWR P.O.Box 532 Cedar Key, FL 32625, or call 493-1807 or 352-278-5088 for other arrangements
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After lunch at the Annual Meeting, there will be nature walks on the River Trail (above) and the new Tram Ridge Trail (below). Friends board members and Refuge staff members will guide the walks in small groups. Each group can walk at its own pace. We will have guides with differing expertise so you can select the type of walk that appeals to you . . . birds, plants, history, just enjoying the woods, whatever! No prior reservations are needed. And, benches have been installed by Friends and Refuge staff this week!
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Paddling Event at Annual Meeting
In addition to Nature Walks on the River Trail and the new Tram Trail near Refuge headquarters, in the afternoon of the Annual Meeting, the Friends will conduct a paddle on the Suwannee River. Led by Bill Dummitt and Jay Bushnell, the paddle will launch from Fletchers Landing in the Refuge. We will paddle down river to Little Muddy and Sandfly creeks. It is an easy paddle of about 2 hours.
Please note that the event will be restricted to 10 boats. Please contact either Bill (314-918-0720) or Jay (493-1807) to reserve your place. You will need your own boat plus life jackets, and perhaps some water to drink.