We all miss the River Trail so very much! It was one of the most popular places to walk in the Refuge, and the most accessible trail to see the Suwannee River, before Hurricane Idalia destroyed the boardwalks.
Refuge Manager Andrew Gude will need to apply for funds to rebuild the boardwalks from the regular maintenance funds within the National Wildlife Refuge System. He expects it will be years before our turn will come up in the queue.
Friends are very impatient when it comes to our favorite points of Refuge access and helping visitors see and enjoy the River. With staff along to guide the discussion, board member John Thalacker studied the extensive damage to provide an assessment for Friends' possible action. It appeared that if a section about 35 feet long could be repaired, the boardwalk to the River overlook would be usable.
Refuge staff members tore out the most damaged section to get a clear view of the underpinnings and better assess the safety of the remaining sections.
Unfortunately, the damage turned out to be much more extensive than originally thought. Many of the 4x4 posts are nearly rotted through, so it is not possible to replace one section. The whole thing has to come down and be rebuilt.
Now, we are back to the early understanding that our River Trail will be closed for years. What next? We are trying to find a way.