Dear Refuge Friends:
Although the Friends periodically send out a newsletter to our members and visitors, events in 2020 have been moving at such a rapid clip that we are sending out a brief update to bring you up to speed.
Recap of the past several months:
February was a busy month, starting with the second event in our Winter Speaker series, a talk by Kim Wheeler about Red Wolves.
We had a busy tour month -- four scheduled wagon tours and guided walks. We hosted our Annual General Meeting at the History Culture and Arts Building in Apalachicola. Those who attended received a Friends of St. Vincent NWR T-shirt after enjoying a fabulous catered spread by Bite Me Deli in Apalachicola.
In March, USFWS hosted a luncheon at the Refuge office for the many volunteers and Friends who give their time to St. Vincent. Our World Wildlife Day wagon tour was well attended, along with a guided walk on the eleventh.
Sixty people attended our final event of the Winter Speaker series, was a talk about migratory birds on St. Vincent presented by Don Morrow, a longtime birdwatcher and volunteer at St. Marks NWR. This ended up being our last public event--the COVID 19 pandemic effectively suspended further Friends gathering
New Interpretive Signage: Several Board members are developing a proposal for the Refuge, as they replace and refurbish hurricane-damaged signs on St. Vincent. During reconstruction work on the Refuge, new signage will be purchased and placed appropriately. Watch this space for further developments.
Tour season ended rather abruptly with cancellation of the final five scheduled tours due to 'Stay at Home' orders from the Governor. Although St. Vincent NWR remains open, the St. Vincent Island Shuttle Service has closed for an indefinite period of time, limiting access to the island. We are proceeding to plan Fall and Winter 2020 tours, in hopes that current pandemic will ease, and thus 'social distancing' rules. It is unlikely we will be able to resume wagon tours, we are hoping to resume guided walks in some form in October. We will keep you posted.
Currently, volunteers are not allowed to assist or work on the Refuge in order to follow best practices for social distancing. Only essential USFWS employees will be active on the Refuge for the foreseeable future.
That means the usual summer volunteer working on the Turtle Patrol, maintenance, on-island bird protection and advocacy work, and assistance from the Friends summer intern on indefinite hold.
We had a candidate lined up for the summer intern position on Indian Pass, but were unable to proceed due to Volunteering restrictions by USFWS. Turtle Patrol will proceed with USFWS personnel only and planning work is ongoing to repair damaged infrastructure from Hurricane Michael on the Refuge by USFWS.
Although we had to cancel our World Migratory Bird Day guided walk, we asked all of you to participate at home in birding's biggest day :
Global Big Day. Follow the link below for more information.
Volunteer Christine Ross is working hard to help us develop a new web site with easier interface and user capabilities. It will be fantastic! We hope to launch in early Fall. In the mean time, please log into the current site as we will work to update the Blog at regular intervals.
We still need volunteers to help out with several jobs that can be done at home. If you have the desire to help with your time and talents please contact us at at <email@example.com> Or, if you just want to chat, we love to hear from you.
Carol Brown and the Board of Directors
Friends of St Vincent NWR