On Friday, February 9th, several Friends and other supporters met at Vista to plan how to design our Vista Camp Pollinator garden, as envisioned by those who attended the recent retreat of the Friends' board of directors. We looked over the magnificent space we have at Vista for our garden and tried to imagine the best possible presentation to delight and inform Refuge visitors. Claudia Larsen, of Micanopy Wildflowers, is our expert botanist and mentor. She is working on a 25 x 25 foot lay-out for the garden now.
The Friends can't wait to get our hands in the dirt and plant some plants. If you would like to be part of the work team, your participation would be much appreciated. We also need work time to build some picnic tables, chairs and fencing.
And, we are wishing for donations to purchase native plants and the materials for the tables, chairs, and fences. When we know what we want and what they cost, we will add the specifics to the Wish List.
With over 90 species of butterflies in the Refuge as well as all the moths, bees, and other pollinators, our garden will be full of different wonders every day.
The picture, by Barbara Woodmansee, who is the Friends' Champion for this Vista Camp Pollinator Garden, is just to let everyone know that spring is here! Redbuds and plums are blooming and lunas are on the wing!
Barbara will lead a Butterfly Walk on the Refuge on Saturday April 13. Save the Date. More information will be posted as the time nears.
The researchers at the Avian Research and Conservation Institute named the kite whose tracker we helped sponsor Suwannee 22, because she was caught and fitted with her device in 2022. She is still calling home and is on her way back to the Lower Suwannee NWR from Brazil. Here is hoping for a successful nesting season!
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.
Wishes continue to come true!
We would especially appreciate another partner or two helping with the demonstration at the Annual Meeting of equipment to make outdoor activities more accessibility to people with limited mobility.
From time-to-time Refuge staff members hear from visitors about something that made the visitor concerned when they were hiking, biking, hunting, or otherwise enjoying the Refuge's peacefulness and beauty. Refuge managers have a mechanism for reporting incidents that might require a refuge law enforcement officer to check them out. The National Wildlife Refuge System has a relatively small number of law enforcement officers nationwide, while only a few refuges have a dedicated officer. Reports of visitor concerns on a refuge weigh heavily in determining the assignment of an officer to come and review possible or documented illegal activity.
Friends ask visitors to help gather and report data. These are ways we can all do that:
Illegal activity or other incidents (list of illegal refuge activities)