Iconic refuge view

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

Phone: (850) 925-6121

Email for more information

Photo Credits

News Details

First Sunday at the Refuge Brooke 1st Sunday
December's First Sunday at the Refuge Program, entitled Coming to Pass: Florida's Coastal Islands in a Gulf of Change, will be given December 6th by Susan Cerulean, a writer, naturalist and activist from Tallahassee.

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.

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.

Summer project on Black Bears
Several state biologists will be staying on the Refuge this summer while conducting a population census for Black Bears across North Florida. They will be setting up 10' x 10' corrals using a couple of strands of barbed wire close to the ground and well off paths used by humans. Scent lures and bait will be the attractant, and hair samples enabling DNA identification will be collected by the barbed wire. Please do not disturb a corral in the unlikely event you encounter one. Each will be signed as an FWC Research Site.

Raising milkweeds for Monarchs
The Fish & Wildlife Service has granted $10,000 additional dollars to the Refuge to raise native milkweeds for Monarch butterflies. In 2015 a greenhouse will be built at the Work Center, and then FSU students will help build planters and start seeds. Obtaining viable native milkweed plants from seed can take 3 years, so plants will also be propagated from cuttings. In 2016 they will add a hydroponic growing closet, and hold teacher workshops so they can take the project of planting milkweeds back to their schools. Kudos to all concerned for developing these important projects.

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.

Refuge Receives 160-acre Gift
The St. Marks Refuge Association has received a substantial gift of land that will protect a major archaeological site, as well as expand the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge’s wetlands and forest. This 160-acre tract has been donated to SMRA by the Rev. Lila Byrd Brown and her sister. They are glad for the Byrd Tract to be returned to the people, since it came from the people as a land grant to their ancestor, Robert Byrd, around 1850. The Byrd Tract will be transferred to the Refuge later this year. Picture shows SMRA Development Committee member Paul Hamilton thanking Rev. Byrd on behalf of the Association, at her home in Jacksonville. More information here.

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.

New kiosk celebrates Wilderness Area and Florida Trail
A new kiosk has been erected to celebrate both the St. Marks Wilderness and the Florida National Scenic Trail. It is located where the Trail crosses Lighthouse Road, at the south end of East River Pool. The kiosk is the last component of a grant to your Association from the National Environmental Education Foundation (with funding from Toyota), and a part of the refuge's celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Special thanks to Firefighter Travis Pollard and Mike Keys for producing the map, to SMRA member Rita LeBlanc for designing the other panels, and to the inmate crew for building and erecting the structure.

Ground Pounders Help Monarchs
A group of FSU students affectionately known as the 'Ground Pounders' is once again helping the refuge with a project . Known officially as the Environmental Service Program, most of them are environmental studies majors. Recently they've been constructing a greenhouse and planting beds at the Refuge Work Center, for raising milkweed plants needed by Monarch Butterflies. We're fortunate to have these folks help maintain and enhance the Refuge we all love, and we thank them for their service.

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 ...)

Copyright: St. Marks Refuge Association, 2013