Welcome to Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
We hope these pages will provide information helpful to you in planning a trip to one of the best kept secrets in Florida.
The term “Keys” comes from the Indian word “cayo”, meaning “small island”. This is a very appropriate term for this unique area! Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is a group of fragile coastal islands just off the village of Cedar Key, Florida. Established in 1929, Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge contains significant natural and cultural resources from pre-historic and historic times. Today, the Refuge consists of 13 islands ranging in size from 1 to 120 acres, totaling 762 acres. Ancient Indian cultures once used these off-shore islands as camps, later creating living areas – where food from the Gulf was plentiful and readily available. In more recent history, the famous Faber Pencil Mill was located on Atsena Otie Key where its remains can be seen today.
Wading birds, shorebirds, fishes, manatees, bald eagles, crabs, and even reptiles are some of the species of wildlife that find suitable habitat on the islands and marshes that make-up Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge. An historic lighthouse, now leased by the University of Florida as a Marine Science Lab, sits atop the Pleistecene dune relic, Seahorse Key. Their goal is to conduct important research while at the same time educatinge future conservation leaders about the importance of this unique ecosystem.
Most public use at Cedar Keys N WR is focused on Atsena Otie Key which is owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District and managed as part of the Refuge. Here visitors will find a pier, time line information, toilet facility, and a walking trail to a 19th century cemetery..
Dock at Atsena Otie. Credit: USFWS
Snake Key. Credit: USFWS