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
March's First Sunday at the Refuge Program, entitled Green Fire: The Land Ethic of Aldo Leopold, will be presented March 6th. Aldo has been considered the Father of Wildlife Conservation, and Green Fire won an EMMY Award.

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 to arrive in a few weeks
The six whooping cranes destined for their winter pensite at the St. Marks National Wildlifle Refuge are taking a short Holiday Break at a stop in northern Alabama, along with their costumed guides and groundcrew. Their trip is expected to resume before New Years Day, and they are expected to arrive here by mid-January. Stay tuned to alerts about exactly which morning they should be flying over the St. Marks townsite. Remember this is a genuine goosebump experience, so bring friends and neighbors. Thanks again to the many volunteers who took care of crane pen repair tasks this year.

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. (Note: More recently, an additional $15,000 was received by the Friends group to use toward the Monarch butterfly project.)

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 coming soon
The annual Wildlife, Heritage and Outdoors Festival will be held at the Refuge from 11-am to 4-pm on Saturday February 6th. Come and enjoy all types of outdoor activities for all ages, along with music and food (Bradley's sausage and hot dogs). And do a friend, neighbor or co-worker a big favor: invite them to come along too! Special emphasis will be on birds, in celebration of 2016 being the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Act.

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