Friends will have a Winter Solstice celebration as always. But, this year, since the Shell Mound pier is gone and the trails are hurricane damaged, we will schedule a workday and then a talk with tea and cookies. The details will be set at the board meeting on Tuesday, November 21 and announced here soon after the meeting. Watch this space!
Another amazing Junior Ranger Day was conducted last week at the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge headquarters.
Friends Past-President Debbie Meeks and Refuge Deputy Manager John Stark, and many other staff and volunteers, coordinated the event that included eight-nine (89) 4th graders from Dixie County. The students worked to become Junior Rangers by participating in activities at eight stations set up throughout the Refuge headquarter's property.
The swearing-in ceremony conducted by Refuge Manager Andrew Gude was especially moving as Andrew explained to the children how at their age he knew he wanted a career that would protect wild lands and animals. Together they recited the Junior Ranger Pledge, and the coveted Junior Ranger badges were distributed.
Thanks to the Friends volunteers who helped make this happen including Debbie Meeks, John McPherson, Denise Feiber, Sandra Milliner, Pete Tirrell, Jay Bushnell, and John Douglass. Refuge volunteers included Michael Caulking, Robin Gallup, and Rick Gallup.
More Junior Rangers will attempt certification December 8, 2023.
The Community Foundation of North Central Florida helps potential donors find nonprofit organizations with whom they can partner to make the world a better place for all of us. One of their tools is The Philanthropy Hub, a website providing information on more than 100 nonprofits working in our region. You can see the entry for Friends of Lower Suwannee & Cedar Keys NWRs here.
According to a new study, Florida At-Risk Species Surveys: Final Performance Report, the distribution of the Duke's (Calhoun’s) Skipper, the only endemic Florida butterfly taxon outside of south Florida, has declined dramatically during the last 20 years. Much of this range contraction appears to be tied to altered hydrologic regimes (lowered groundwater table levels) in high quality hydric hammock or mixed wetland hardwood, its primary habitats.
Butterfly expert and Friends' board member Barbara Woodmansee has been surveying the butterflies of the Refuge for years. Her data is included in the new study.
Here's hoping that the Refuge's multi-year project to restore natural hydrologic flow within and across the Lower Suwannee NWR will further increase the habitat range of the butterfly.