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.
Both the Cedar Keys and the Lower Suwannee Refuge were spared significant damage from the hurricane. The water was pulled out of the Cedar Keys Refuge area. It was remarkable to see and Friends members Ann Kamzelski and Denise Feiber documented it in photos.
Refuge staff members are now in south Florida helping others less fortunate than we were.
On Monday October 24, Cedar Keys Audubon will host a presentation by Leslie Sturmer of the University of Florida IFAS Shellfish Aquaculture Extension entitled Clamalot: The Story and Significance of Shellfish Aquaculture in Cedar Key.
Leslie has worked with the shellfish aquaculture industry since it began in Cedar Key during the early 1990s. She will provide an overview of the industry including how it began, current status, and introduction to farming components. The environmental benefits that clam farming provides and importance of water quality on its sustainability will be discussed.
The Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges are key factors in maintaining the water quality that is needed for the industry to thrive here.
The presentation will be at 5:00 at the Cedar Key Community Center.