Following is a summary of Andrew's notes for the Friends' May board meeting. Lots going on at the Refuge.
Staff are rehabbing compromised culverts on a few backwoods roads as the ground is finally dry enough to do the work. This work is north of the western leg of the Barnett Creek Trail. Recovery from this work may take awhile due to the impact from the heavy equipment needed to do the work. The area is slated for future forestry restoration efforts.
Work also continues on Seahorse Key dock rebuilding. The work is expected to continue through the summer.
Andrew summarized the longleaf pine restoration work that is starting in Dixie County. A separate project involving 70 miles of hazard fuels from encroaching roadside and overhead vegetation will be awarded in the near future. Refuge roads serve as fire breaks for burn units, buffers for Wildland Urban interfaces and access to fire equipment. Work is expected to start this summer and be completed in early 2024. These efforts along with the ongoing maintenance of the Refuge have been a boon to pollinator habitat - much to the delight of many including our butterfly experts. See our previous May 11th blog post for more information on these projects.
Andrew welcomed the summer to fall 2023 Resident Camper Volunteers, Rex and Claudette Tilley, whom he reports are fitting in nicely and have already picked up where Rick and Robin left off.
Speaking of highly valued volunteers, three Youth Conservation Corps students are being interviewed to start work in early June. One of their first assignments will be to help rebuild the River Trail Boardwalk that was damaged in a recent storm.
For the hunters and other enthusiasts, quail call surveys have begun, and staff are reporting hearing more than last year. Although quail are not hunted on the Refuge, everyone is pleased to hear more of them calling.
Unfortunately the season for the biting flies and other blood thirsty insects has arrived. Andrew warns that if you go for a walk or run at this time of year, you're guaranteed to get your exercise running away from them. Don't forget your repellent!