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Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complete a Comprehensive Conservation Plan


October 12, 2001

Elsie Davis, 404/679-7107

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed a Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges in Levy and Dixie Counties, Florida. This master plan is to provide guidance for refuge management over the next 10 to 15 years.

The approved plan identifies the need to enhance habitat management and public use on Lower Suwannee Refuge and to enhance natural resource protection with public awareness and education on Cedar Keys Refuge. The long range plan will result in: improved habitat for threatened and endangered species, migratory birds and resident wildlife; improved protection of natural and cultural resources; development of an expanded environmental education program; and accessibility of the refuge to the public for compatible wildlife-dependent recreation. As required by the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the plan ensures that wildlife has first priority and that recreation and other uses are allowed when compatible with the purpose, mission and vision of the refuges.

A 53,000-acre refuge, Lower Suwannee was established in 1979 to protect one of the largest remaining undeveloped estuaries in the country. The refuge encompasses 20 miles of habitat flanking both sides of the Suwannee River and over 20 miles of pristine coastal marsh habitat. Lower Suwannee Refuge provides important habitat for bald eagles, swallow-tailed kites, gopher tortoises, manatees, sea turtles, and migratory birds.

Cedar Keys Refuge is managed as part of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge Complex. It was established in 1929 as a refuge for wading birds and wildlife. Today, the refuge consists of 13 islands and more than 800 acres of pristine coastal barrier island habitat. Four of the islands are designated Wilderness areas. Seahorse Key is home to one of the largest colonial wading bird rookeries in North Florida and contains one of Florida's historic lighthouses, which is used for marine science, education and research by the University of Florida.

Copies of the plan are available by contacting the refuge office: Ken Litzenberger, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 16450 NW 31st Place, Chiefland, FL 32626; (352) 493-0238. The plan is also available to download from the internet at http:\\

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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Atlanta, GA 30345

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2001 News Releases

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