Friends of the Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges is, as you know, an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation registered in Florida.
In part because of a Report from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Interior, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service now requires that in order to become part of the official National Wildlife Refuge System friends program, each independent Friends organization must sign a Partnership Agreement by the end of this year. We would remain a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, however we would agree to additional monitoring and oversight by the Government.
The Friends board is weighing the implications of signing the Partnership Agreement or of remaining unaffiliated with any Government agency.
The headquarters building and Welcome Desk remain closed because of Covid 19 guidelines.
Nevertheless, the refuge staff continue their work unabated. Trails and roads are being maintained, despite the vigorous efforts of feral swine to make a mess of them. Shell Mound Trail has receive enhancements.
Vic Doig, George Pelt, and Sterling Valentine have all been fighting fires out west.
Also, in response to a proposal submitted in the spring, the Refuges have received additional funding to improve fishing access and safety. These funds are in addition to the grant funds received earlier to restore hydrologic flow across the Lower Suwannee Refuge.
Friends board member Barbara Woodmansee and her husband Marc did a butterfly survey on October 8 of the Tram Trail. Barbara's report and photos follow.
The Tram Trail is flourishing after the fantastic job of burning was completed in the summer. This is the peak of fall butterflies and fall flowers, and both were really excellent. We had 26 species of butterflies in just over 2 hours, which is excellent - especially since it was cloudy and even rained while we were there. The Indian paintbrush, deer tongue and liatris are all coming into full flower now and the woods is a beautiful purple with all of it. These blooms are prime butterfly nectar, and I am so thrilled that we have this wonderful trail to explore. I hope to work more on developing this multi-biozone trail during the winter, and encourage everyone to check it out if you haven't seen it.
Hello Followers of Suwannee the Swallow-tailed Kite, from Friends board member and Suwannee Project chair, Debbie Jordan.
Fall is in the air and I hope you’ve had a chance to get outside and enjoy the wonderful weather of the last few days. I’ve been keeping an eye on the Audubon map www.audubon.org/suwannee that tracks Suwannee’s migration and was thrilled to see that he has made it to Brazil, getting close to where he overwintered last year…5,000 miles from the Refuge! This week I checked in with ARCI bird researcher Gina Kent, who monitors Suwannee’s coordinates and keeps the map up to date. She reports some interesting information below and asked me to share the map showing Suwannee's trip south thus far in 2020.
The Friends are still attempting to raise funds to continue this research but with the pandemic closures and no festivals this has been difficult. Should you be interested in helping, we would gratefully accept a donation earmarked for Suwannee or perhaps you may want to purchase a Suwannee t-shirt to support the effort. Please send your requests to me at email@example.com Looking forward to hearing from you!
From Gina Kent, research ecologist and coordinator, Avian Research and Conservation Institute
Suwannee's probably not quite to his winter range. He stayed in Mato Grosso last year and he's in Rondonia, the state just to the north. We expect he'll be there soon.
Both this year and last year he stayed close to the Refuge the entire pre-migration. Both years he migrated south on August 8th!
On his way south through Florida, he spent a night in the Green Swamp, another night in Picayune Strand State Forest and then flew to Cuba from the Ten-thousand Islands NWR. He did not stop in Cuba and continued to the Yucatan, coming on land on August 10th south of Tulum, Mexico. He had moved very fast this year through Colombia and the Amazon of Brazil. Last location was on 9/16. A lot of open areas with few cell towers. I'm not worried, this will be pretty normal for the next few months.