Get Involved

Join your neighbors, get involved with the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge. Our Friends group paddles the Gulf, sponsors art contests, and brings top notch speakers to their winter lecture series. Their work over the last year has knocked-down invasive exotics that had put their roots deeply into the coastal soil. Dedicated volunteers assist with landscaping, recreation site maintenance, lighthouse tours, and environmental education.  These selfless people want to "give back" and "pay if forward"; they make THE difference.

From its start in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has owed its very existence to concerned citizens eager to protect America's natural resources. 

More than 200 nonprofit Refuge Friends organizations support national wildlife refuges, whether they work with a single refuge, a refuge complex or an entire state. Enjoy following our local Friends on their website at:  Friends of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys NWR

More than 42,000 people volunteer their time and ideas each year to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Whether they work on the land, in a visitor center or with youth, they contribute to the conservation mission that reaches back more than a century.  Become a volunteer or Refuge Friend to contribute your strength on behalf of America’s natural resources.

Pepper-Busting Beats Doing Nothing

During the winter holidays, our eyes are drawn to native plants that shimmer reds and greens of the season. Beauties like Florida holly with its waxy deep green leaves and bright red berries, yaupon holly with its small waxy leaves and small red berries, and the more delicate Christmas berry with red and green as well as a tiny lavender flower, are our friends. These native beauties are more decorative than the invasive brought in as an ornamental.

Those new to Florida mistake Brazilian pepper (Schinus), for a friendly plant because its colors are familiar. Birds don’t care; food is food, but these non-native plants are heavy drinkers of the water our native plants require. Schinus produces millions of seeds many times throughout the year making it tough to control its spreading. Birds unwittingly fertilize them in their guano after gorging on the berries. Schinus is the “most hated” non-native plant for Floridians because they can survive cutting, burning, and even some chemical treatment.

Staff and Friends of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge along with the Cedar Key Garden Club’s Pepper Busters are going all-out to rid the area of the hardy, but hated invasive. Roger McDaniels, both a Refuge Friends Board member and President of the Cedar Key Garden Club, wrote the grant for invasives eradication. Later, the Refuge purchased safety gear, application equipment, chemicals, and tools for volunteers and staff. Refuge Fire Management Officer, Vic Doig created an invasive plants brochure to inform the visiting public and new residents. It can be seen posted in the Refuge bulletin board at the Cedar Key Marina.

McDaniels, has organized at least a dozen or more work groups to pepper-bust the Refuge’s newly acquired Luken’s Tract and areas of Cedar Key. No schinus shall go unnoticed, uncut, or untreated! If you’re interested in becoming a pepper-buster, call the Refuge at 352/493-0238.