What We Do
Working with many partners to conserve and restore natural habitats on and around the Refuge for the development, advancement, management, conservation, and protection of fish and wildlife resources; while supporting rural lifestyles, culture, and local community’s natural resource-based economies, in perpetuity.
The purpose of the Refuge is to:
- …” to protect, maintain, enhance, and where appropriate, restore habitats along the lower reaches of the Suwannee River.” (Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys NWRs Comprehensive Conservation Plan 2001).
- “...for the development, advancement, management, conservation, and protection of fish and wildlife resources....” 16 U.S.C. § 742f(a)(4)* and
- “...for the benefit of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
- , in performing its activities and services. Such acceptance may be subject to the terms of any restrictive or affirmative covenant, or condition of servitude....” 16 U.S.C. § 742f(b)(1) (Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, 16 U.S.C. § 742f (a) Special Use Permit-754, as amended.
Management and Conservation
Habitat Restoration: Forest Restoration and Management
Protect Cultural Resources
We offer various maps, brochures, permit applications, general information and guidance, refuge hunting information, and special use permits.
Our Projects and Research
The refuge offers itself to scientific researchers as an opportunity as a natural laboratory. Research is encouraged that fits within the mission of the NWRS and the purposes of the refuge. The research does not necessarily need to have management driven or useful outcomes or products; as long as it does not compromise the ecosystem, scientists are welcome to submit research requests.
To improve wildlife habitat, Refuge staff undertake a wide range of projects. A variety of bat houses have been built for native bats like the Brazilian free-tail and Rafinesque’s big-eared bats. To provide habitat for native pollinators, bee blocks are used, a pollinator garden is maintained, and mowing schedules are modified to avoid disturbing fields of wildflowers until butterflies have finished laying eggs and begin to migrate south.
Another project with potential to significantly benefit the Refuge is the Vista project which is located adjacent to the Refuge Headquarters. The Vista project is the highlight of our long-term Refuge public use plan. This unique 14-acre parcel with a relatively intact hunting and fishing camp has not been altered since the mid 20th century. It provides a remarkable view of Suwannee River life during that period. It was donated in 2012 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by descendants of the original owners. The family retained a life estate on a portion of the property containing the Vista buildings and docks. Along with Refuge staff, the project involves the cooperation and efforts of the USFWS and the Friends group. The timetable for when this property will be turned over to the Refuge and when construction projects will be completed is unknown at this time and contingent on the life estate agreement.
Salt Marsh vole assessment. Salt marsh vole work has been conducted at the LSNWR, including habitat measures and occurrence data for this listed species. Led by Bob McCleery in Wildlife Ecology at UF.
Snook ecology and habitat use. Project led by M. Allen and Charlie Martin at UF, with collaboration from FWC. Project is evaluating seasonal habitat use for snook and identification of thermal refuge habitat for snook populations, which has implications for minimum flows and levels work. Attached is our project summary for thermal refuge habitat.
Diamondback terrapin nest success and habitat factors affecting occupancy of islands in the CK and LSNWR, led by Travis Thomas, NCBS
Work has explored how distance from the mainland, island size, and presence of predators influences occupancy and nest success for diamondback terrapin. The study included camera surveys for nest predators and physical habitat measurements, along with site occupancy modeling.
- The Refuge maintains 194 miles of heavily forested hiking and biking trails and public driving roads for public access by mowing and grading these roads, removing downed trees and debris.
- Law enforcement coverage is provided to protect the public and trust resources. The Refuge has a close collaboration with the FWC in patrolling on and off the Refuge.
- We offer support to our Friends group, Refuge Volunteers, and many partners by hosting events, supporting projects with supplies, materials, and staff capacity, and equipment.
- Shorebird and nesting surveys are conducted for a variety of wading birds, sea birds, shorebirds, and forest nesting birds.
- By far our greatest effort is in forest habitat restoration, habitat management and the prescribed fire program as described above in “Major Management Tools.”
- Our support of a diverse array of wildlife dependent recreational activities extends to our road and trail maintenance, the maintenance of public facilities like boat ramps, fishing piers, interpretive trails, and our 200 aggregate-day annual hunting season.
- Facilitating and hosting special events, and access for veterans and disabled access parties.
- Invasive species removal with our partners the Pepper Busters and the Florida DEP.
- Assisting State of Florida, University of Florida, FWS, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local communities, and other partners on a wide array of projects including habitat restoration, science, rehabilitated wild animal releases, response to wildlife injuries, technical assistance, grant partnerships, emergency response, federal projects, land management and conservation easements, and public events.
- The Refuge live-traps feral hogs, which are considered destructive nuisance species that harm native wildlife.
Law enforcement coverage is provided to protect the public and trust resources. The Refuge has a close collaboration with the FWC in patrolling on an off the Refuge.