National Wildlife Refuge
|479 Market Street
Apalachicola, FL 32320
Phone Number: 850-653-8808
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|Aerial Photograph of St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS|
St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge
St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, in Franklin County, Florida, is an undeveloped barrier island just offshore from the mouth of the Apalachicola River, in the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge is managed to preserve, in as natural a state as possible, its highly varied plant and animal communities. Ten separate habitat types have been identified: tidal marsh; freshwater lakes and streams; dunes dominated by live oak/mixed hardwood understory; scrub oaks; relatively pure stands of cabbage palm; and four different slash pine communities, each with its own unique understory species. St. Vincent is an important stop-off point in the Gulf of Mexico region for neo-tropical migratory birds. The island is a haven for endangered and threatened species, including bald eagles, sea turtles, indigo snakes, and gopher tortoises. Wood storks use the refuge during their migration. In addition, the refuge serves as a breeding area for endangered red wolves
Getting There . . .
The Refuge Office/Visitor Center is in the Harbor Master Building at 479 Market Street, Apalachicola, Florida. Refuge signs on Highway 98 will direct you to the Center. The Center is open Monday-Friday, 8:00-4:00 E.S.T. St. Vincent Island is 9 miles southwest of Apalachicola and is surrounded by water. The closest public boat ramp to the island is located 22 miles west of Apalachicola at the end of County Road 30-B. From that boat ramp it is one-quarter of a mile across to the island. Boaters should be sensitive to winds, tide fluctuations, currents, storms, and oyster bars.
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Management of upland habitats is accomplished primarily through the proper use of both prescribed and naturally occurring fire. Native vegetation evolved in a fire-maintained ecosystem. Prescribed fires reduce midstory and overstory vegetation on ridges and maintain early successional species. Prescribed burning reduces hazardous accumulations of flammable fuels and kills invasive woody vegetation in marsh habitats.
Wetland habitats are managed occasionally through water level manipulation and control of vegetation. Vegetation encroachment, dissolved oxygen, and salinity in the lakes are monitored regularlythroughout the year.
Refuge staff survey wildlife populations to monitor numbers of migratory birds, their breeding success, and to establish population trends for many species. Staff and volunteers monitor colonial bird nesting, shorebird nesting, alligator abundance, and bald eagle nesting success. The Gulf of Mexico beach is checked from May to September for the crawls of nesting sea turtles. Nests are caged to protect eggs from raccoon and feral hog predation. Nest success and hatching rates are monitored.
Endangered red wolves, native to the Southeast, are raised on St. Vincent NWR as a part of the recovery program. Wolves are allowed to roam the island to gain "wild experience." Wolves are transferred to mainland wild release sites and captive sites, as needed. Island wolf numbers are maintained at an adult pair or family unit.