The Florida Division of Historical Resources has selected Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs to receive a grant to begin repairs on at least one historical building on the Vista property near Refuge headquarters. The State will provide $60,000 for the project and Friends agreed to match that with $15,000 raised elsewhere. Thus, the total amount for this part of the project is $75,000. That will not be enough to make the building fully functional, but it will move us much closer to being able to use the building for Friends and Refuge activities.
This is the second grant Friends received from the State for Vista. The first, in 2019, was a planning grant of $50,000 that resulted in a Historic Structure Assessment Report evaluating the historical, cultural, and structural characteristics of the property, including many current and historic photos.
Scroll down to the description of Vista on the Places of Interest tab for additional background.
Scroll down in the post about the 2020 Annual Meeting and Walk to Vista for photos of Friends members visiting the site.
Scroll thru the 2022 Annual Meeting post for photos of Sandra Roe Smith turning over a symbolic key to the property to Refuge Manager Andrew Gude.
Butterfly lovers, mark your calendars for October 10 when Barbara will lead a Butterfly Walk on the Refuge. Get ready to spend a wonderful morning walking in the wild, seeing butterflies with Barbara. Details to come.
Friends helped support the tracker worn by Suwannee, a Swallow-tailed Kite whose flights have been followed by the Avian Research and Conservation Institute (ARCI) for the past three years. When the battery in the tracker died, Friends was able to support a tracker for another bird, Suwannee II.
Suwannee II hung around the Lower Suwannee Refuge in June after being outfitted with his transmitter. Now he has flown north to the Savannah River!
What! Why north, we asked?
ARCI Senior Researcher Gina Kent replied that Suwannee II is using a location where the Institute knows other kites have roosted in the past. She says it's quite common for birds from the south to move north for pre-migration preparations. A kite that nests on the FL Panther NWR came to St. Augustine. One from there, years ago, went all the way to the NC border. Another from West Palm Beach moved north to the St. Johns River. It is always exciting to see their pre-migration behavior, says Gina.
We will post updates on Suwannee II as they're available.
Trails on the Lower Suwannee Refuge surround us with peace and quiet beauty when we need them. They give us chances to explore, observe and learn. They also remind us that insects still rule the wild. But, there are some barriers to using the trails, in addition to the insects. Lots of us find walking on uneven ground and under our own power for the length of most trails to be unrealistic.
“On July 3, I met with Andrew Gude, Manager of Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge to demonstrate the EcoRover and evaluate trails that could be used in an adaptive trackchair program at the refuge. The meeting was prompted by Boyd Kimball, board member of Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges https://www.friendsofrefuges.org/ and David Jones of SportsAbility Alliance https://www.fdoa.org/ .
“Two spectacular trails jump out right away. The River Trail takes us thru a beautiful cypress swamp, leading to a boardwalk that pops out on the Suwannee River. Really cool! The Dennis Creek Trail starts in the Shell Mound area and treks through estuaries north of Cedar Key, FL. Andrew Gude said, "The future possibilities are very exciting and proposed a trial event with the trackchairs in early December 2022. Bird Dog Boats has established excellent adaptive fishing from its own dock facility in Cedar Key, in operation with UF-IFAS. This trackchair program would operate about ½ hour from Cedar Key and be a very nice expansion to the adaptive recreation offered in the area.”
The Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs organization is delighted to be involved in this possibility and will work hard to make it happen.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service selected Friends president Debbie Meeks to be one of the 25 participants in the Friends Academy.
Friends Academy is an advanced training program for board members of Friends organizations. Its goals are to provide a broad understanding of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and to enhance the effectiveness of the partnerships between Friends and their Refuges.
Members of the boards of directors of the more than 250 Friends groups supporting the 567 refuges nationwide were invited to apply for the week-long training program which takes place at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. It is a very nice venue.
The organizers of the Academy are particularly eager to hear what Debbie has to share about our use of IT for membership databases and developing of our trail guides, butterfly guidebook, and digital brochures. Among other things, Debbie is eager to learn what others have to share about development of a Visitor Center. It should be a great week!