Rob Diaz de Villegas WFSU-TV
I want to thank my co-adventurers for joining me on what turned out to be a remarkably wildlife filled day. Andy Wraithmell from Florida Fish & Wildlife set our itinerary for the day and picked the best spots for the best time. I elaborated on those locations and timing considerations in last week’s post (with a map), which you can read here. It was great to meet Lou and Betsy Kellenberger, who have a real love for the place, and Alicia Wellman,who live-tweeted our day for Florida Fish & Wildlife. Thanks also to my production assistant, Alex Saunders, for the great photos, and lastly to Refuge Manager Terry Peacock for talking to us.
In the video I alluded to there being too many places, activities, and programs in the Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge for what ended up being an almost seven-minute piece. Over the years, we’ve covered some of those and I’ll point you to a couple of videos we’ve done along with some additional online resources.
The Whooping Crane Migration Program
The most famous birds associated with the Refuge are the ones you’re least likely to see on a visit. I did a segment the first year they flew in. You can watch that video here. Their struggles this year were well documented, and while the Operation Migration folks ended up having to winter this year’s class in Alabama, one member of that original 2009 class paired off with one of the Chassahowitzka cranes from that year (half go to St. Marks, the other to Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge) and flew to a cow pasture in Tallahassee’s Southwood neighborhood. That means that they are learning their traditional migration paths, which is hopeful for their future.
The Florida National Scenic Trail
We just recently did a video on the Trail’s Aucilla Sinks segment. Previously, Florida Trail Association’s Kent Wimmer had taken us to two very special spots in the Refuge: Shepherd Spring and the Cathedral of Pines. You can see shots of those at the end of the video above. You can see that full video here.
The St. Marks Lighthouse
We don’t have a video uploaded on the lighthouse, but there is some news regarding it. The Refuge is in the process of taking ownership of the lighthouse from the Coast Guard. The plan is to open a bookstore on the ground floor, though the general public will still not be allowed to climb to the top and utilize what should be a sweet vantage point for photographers and (ahem) videographers.
We see the new educational building and Terry Peacock talks about the number of students that participate in the Refuge’s education programs, but we don’t go into specifics. They offer 18 different programs and will work with teachers to meet their needs. Read more here.
The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Association
This group, led by their president, Betsy Kellenberger, coordinates volunteer efforts, classes, and field trips in the Refuge. Lou and Betsy, for instance, helped to build the Whooping Crane pens, which seems to me to be a neat way to be a part of that program. Visit the Association page here.