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Friends of St. Marks
Wildlife Refuge
PO Box 368
St. Marks, FL 32355

Phone: (850) 925-6121

Email for more information

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First Sunday at the Refuge Brooke 1st Sunday
First Sunday presentations start at 2 pm in the Environmental Education building, 1255 Lighthouse Road on the Refuge. Seating is limited so come early. Regular entrance fees apply. For more info, call (850) 925-6121 or see this Flyer.
The Lighthouse Kiosk and beyond  
We've begun using the Lighthouse Kiosk to inform visitors about lighthouse and refuge news and needs. We will attempt to relate the theme for the kiosk to holidays, events and seasons. It will deliver a quick “take-away” message that can help the Refuge, while at the same time, provide you, our friends, with information you may not have thought about.

As Valentine’s Day is upon us, the newest exhibit reads:
--- It used to be that people would write us actual letters through the mail and tell us how much they loved the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. We still get a few of those, but many of our Valentines who say sweet things to us now are “friends” on Facebook. You can friend us by searching Facebook for Historic St. Marks Lighthouse or St. Marks and St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuges. ---

Don’t forget that Facebook is only one way that you can express yourself. As friends, volunteers, and donors, we look forward to your continued support and expressions of “love” in so many different ways each year.

Students and volunteers working on archaeology dig
A field school is being run this summer at Bird Hammock. Students from FSU, LSU and various volunteers are working under the supervision of professional archaeologists from the Southeast Archaeology Center in Tallahassee. This site is especially important because two groups of people inhabited it over time, between about 100 and 1,000 AD. At least one ring midden is present, along with two burial mounds and possibly a second ring midden. This site is now part of the Refuge, and protected as part of our cultural history.

Crane Class of 2015 arrives, in crates!
The six young Whooping Cranes in 2015's Class of ultralight-led migrants finally arrived at their winter pen-site on your Refuge on Feb 6th, in crates. They had been stalled by weather for a week in Leon County, FL, just one 24-mile flight away.

Sadly, this will be the last ultralight-led migration, for reasons you can read here.

The good news is that we have some adult whoopers now spending the Winter on our Refuge, from previous year's migrants. (Picture at right shows two adults from past years investigating one of the new arrivals, on the other side of the pen's fence.) Enjoy other pictures here.

We will miss the Operation Migration project and their amazingly dedicated staff.

Saving milkweeds for Monarchs
Monarch butterflies feed on several different Milkweed species, and it is important that even the rare ones are protected. On February 13th, volunteers from the FSU Environmental Service Program (the ‘Ground Pounders’) and the Sarracenia Native Plant Society, led by St. Marks NWR Ranger Scott Davis, spent the day rescuing some 50 rare native milkweed plants (Asclepias tomentosa, the velvet leaf milkweed) from a vacant lot on the south side of Tallahassee. Some of the roots, which are possibly over 100 years old, were transplanted to the Refuge to provide a food source for monarch butterflies. Volunteers are extremely important to complete a project of this size.

Refuge support group adopts new name

At its annual meeting last May, the Membership of the St. Marks Refuge Association approved a recommendation to adopt and begin doing business as (dba) Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. The reason for making this change is that "Friends" conveys the group's function, while "Association" does not. The corporate name will remain the St. Marks Refuge Association, Inc. Look for our new name more often in coming months.

Friends Group of the Year Award
On December 8th in Atlanta, President Betty Hamilton received, on behalf of your Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, the Friends Group of the Year Award for the southeast Region of the USFWS. Betty is shown at the right with Regional Director, Cynthia Dohner.

The Program also recognized FWS staff that had received other awards during the year, which included two St. Marks staff: James Burnett (Public Lands Conservationist of the Year, from the Florida Wildlife Federation) and Bart Rye (FWS National Fire Safety Award). James Burnett, who is retiring this month, also attended.

Restored Lighthouse Lens Unveiled  
The restored Fourth Order Fresnel Lens has been unveiled in its new display case in the Visitors Center. Lots of lighthouse friends and dignitaries were on hand to admire its beauty, and discuss plans for the lighthouse's restoration. The picture below shows the lens with past Lighthouse Keepers' descendants, who attended the unveiling.

Byrd Tract transferred to the Refuge
The 160-acre Byrd Tract, which contains the Byrd Hammock archaeological site, was transferred to the Refuge at a ceremony held November 19th. Many Refuge staff and Friends group members were in attendance, along with representatives of the Muscogee Nation and the Southeast Archaeological Center. The guest of honor was the Rev. Lila Byrd Brown, whose family donated this land to the Friends group earlier this year. A bronze plaque will mark the site and record this extraordinarily generous donation. Pictured (L-R) are Refuge Manager Terry Peacock, Friends group President Betty Hamilton, the Rev. Brown, and Paul Hamilton.

WHO Festival a success again
Over 75 volunteers and 11 staff greeted some 800 visitors. Temperature at the start was 39 degrees and it warmed up to nearly 49 degrees! Despite these less than hospitable conditions, visitors seemed to enjoy themselves and to keep all the exhibitors busy. Highlights included a visit from the Operation Migration crew, the ground display of one of their ultralights, and Bradley's sausage with the music of Hot Tamale playing in the background!

Efforts to save the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander
Currently there is an intense effort on the Refuge to save the threatened Frosted Flatwoods Salamander. The salamanders live in seasonally wet pine flat woods and breed in shallow ponds. Staff and Association-funded interns have begun placing traps for larvae in ponds on the Refuge that may be used for breeding. Transferring trapped larvae to protected troughs should reduce predation and increase survival. In addition, the Refuge has increased prescribed burning, which is critical to maintaining salamander habitat.

The Refuge needs your help! Bear off TRam Road
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge currently covers approximately 70,000 acres. In support of their Comprehensive Conservation Plan, the refuge has recently received approval to add additional acres. Now you can really help (Read how ...)




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Copyright: St. Marks Refuge Association, 2013