National Wildlife Refuge
|16450 NW 31 Place
Chiefland, FL 32626
Phone Number: 352-493-0238
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|Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is an important rookery for many species of wading and water birds such as these ibis, egrets and herons.|
Structured educational programs are available for schools. Contact the refuge office for information and environmental education supplies. The Universtity of Florida leases three acres from the refuge on Seahorse Key. They use the historic lighthouse and supporting facilities as a marine laboratory for college marine ecology classes and scientific research.
Salt water fishing is permitted from the refuge beaches and there is a dock/fishing pier at Atsena Otie. Fishing from a boat in the coves around the islands is permitted except during the closed period of Seahorse Key (see the special closure note in the Hours of operation section, below).
An information kiosk is located at the entrance to the walking trail on Atsena Otie Key. This 0.5 mile round trip walk through the scenic upland also takes you back in history. There are interpretive panels along the trail that passes the ruins of the old cedar "slat" pencil mill, a cistern for holding the original towns's water supply and a 1890's cemetery. The interior of the rest of the islands are closed to the public to protect the fragile plant communities
Wildlife observation and photography of the many shore and water birds, as well as strolling along any of the island beaches are favorite activities for visitors. There are several good boat launches, boat rentals and tour boat operators in the town of Cedar Key that can provide for scenic boat rides and breath taking sunsets around the refuge islands. Sea kayaks are popular transportion to Atsena Otie Key and its coastal cove that splits the island in half. They are excellent for visiting some of the near shore islands such as Scale and Live Oak Keys.
Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace is a national educational program to inform visitors about reducing the damage caused by outdoor activities, particularly non-motorized recreation. Leave No Trace principles and practices are based on an abiding respect for the natural world and our fellow wildland visitors. We can act on behalf of the places and wildlife that inspire us by adopting the skills and ethics that enable us to Leave No Trace.
1. Plan ahead and prepare.
2. Travel on durable surfaces.
3. Dispose of waste properly.
4. Leave what you find.
5. Respect wildlife.
6. Be considerate of other visitors.
For more information on Leave No Trace, visit the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics Web site. (http://www.lnt.org)
There is no office or staff for Cedar Keys Refuge, personnel from Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, located on County Road 347, 17 miles north of Cedar Key, administer Cedar Keys refuge. Office hours are 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM Monday - Friday. Seahorse Key and a 300-foot buffer zone in the Gulf of Mexico around the island is closed to all public entry from March 1 through June 30 to protect the nesting birds from human disturbance.
Special open houses dates when the public can visit Seahorse Key and the historic lighthouse are during the Saturday and Sunday of the Cedar Key Seafood festival in October, and on a selected Saturday in July (depending on tide schedules). Check with the refuge office for specific dates.
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