The new trailer was a huge hit at the October 21 Cedar Key Seafood Festival, its roll-out event. Friends did not yet have the storage units or steps installed inside because it had only been "home" from being "wrapped" in photos for a few days. However, the inside walls and floors were painted and all the visitors had appropriate praise for its beauty.
Its second big event was the November 11 Junior Ranger Day, where it stood proud again. Expect to see it around more often in the future.
Many thanks to all the volunteers who staffed the Friends booth at the Cedar Key Seafood Festival -- Ann Kamzelski, Jeri Treat, Peg Hall, Debbie Meeks, Denise Feiber, Jay Bushnell, Carol Lang, Judy Johnson, Ron Kamzelski, and Ginessa Mahar.
More than 500 visitors came by to admire the new Community Outreach Trailer and learn more about how the Refuges are doing after the destruction of Hurricane Idalia. Even the folks from FEMA came to visit Friends.
The volunteers shared maps and brochures with many Refuge newcomers and sold lots of Friends awareness-building tee shirts, hats, and earrings. Much fun was had by all.
USDA's Wildlife Services, in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System, will conduct feral swine control, outside of scheduled hunt seasons, on the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge and sample for African swine fever. They will be using many methods including thermal imaging, helicopters, trapping, and traditional shooting. Feral swine are considered invasive species that present a clear harm to native plants and wildlife. African swine fever is a deadly pig disease that spreads rapidly and affects domestic and wild swine. While not a threat to human health, the virus could devastate America’s swine, pork industry, and food supply.
Fortunately, it does not affect Swamp or Skunk Apes! Read Dan Chapman's Hunting and Swamp Ape story here.
Friends will update this information when the program begins.
A 4th grade class from Old Town will be learning about the Refuges this fall using the Junior Ranger workbooks and coming on a field trip in November to see and experience the Lower Suwannee Refuge for themselves. They follow in the footsteps of a similar class that earned their Junior Ranger badges last May and another group from the Cedar Key Summer Program that earned theirs in June.
Friends works with the teachers and Refuge staff to help the students through several stations where the explore different habitats, work nature puzzles, draw animals and plants they observe, and record observations as citizen scientists.
It takes at least two volunteers for each station. Friends could really use some help with this fun-for-all undertaking. If you could join the effort, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The October Open House, the first since the hurricane, attracted fewer visitors than usual. The trail down to the beach side of the island was destroyed and the cliff further eroded, making it necessary to build a longer new trail that is more difficult to walk.
Thanks to Friends' member Ann Kamzelski for the photos which she took while volunteering at the October Open House.
It is important for visitors to note that Seahorse Key is an island almost 3 miles from Cedar Key. Access is only by boat. There are no amenities, such as food or water on the island. Restroom facilities are limited.
Should there be a medical or other emergency requiring professional assistance or evacuation, response times could be lengthy.
Please plan with this in mind. Seahorse Key is wonderful, but it is not a walk in the proverbial park.