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Status of Refuges

Refuge Report as reported to Barb Howard by Stan Garner, FWS manager Hurricane Irma Sept 10-11, 2017.

  • Passage Key fared well although the island was totally washed over. All the vegetation that had started to grow on the island is now gone. Only 1 sign remains. The island only lost about 1 acre of land. 
  • Pinellas Refuges look good from a distance but will be checked further next week. 
  • Egmont Key also did very well. It doesn’t appear that the island washed over. There is a lot of erosion on all sides of the island but especially the north and west sides. The kiosk on the NE end of the island has a 3 foot escarpment in front of it. Big trees that fell across the trails were cut up and removed by Stan Garner and Tom Watson using the tractor. Palm fronds are at least 2 feet deep on many of the trails and need to be removed. Stan has been able to clear the ones near the FWS cabin. The electric is out on the island and it may take some time to restore.

    The range marker in the shipping channel was washed away and took the power cable to Egmont with it. State Park Ranger, Tom Watson, is still on duty, working from the FWS cabin in the pilot compound using the generators. At least 40% of the signs on the west side of the island have had all the writing sandblasted off of them by the storm. All signs, unreadable and those that fell or washed away, will need to be replaced.

    The Guardhouse did very well. A few of the tiles near the roof ridge moved but didn’t fall. They will need to be secured. The FWS cabin also held up well. The shed had the handles ripped out and the doors flew open. The carport where the golf carts and ATV’s are sheltered is leaning badly. The legs are rusting through and one gave out. It may be able to be temporarily fixed but is in rough shape. All the vehicles had been moved to higher ground and were not damaged. State Park facilities had a bit more damage. The car ports which were canvas covered ripped apart and some blew over. Landside, the shed and car port for the boat at Fort DeSoto are in good shape. Stan moved all the FWS boats up to safer facilities in Crystal River prior to the storm. He plans on coming down to work at Egmont this coming week and will check on the shed at Eckerd College. He will let Friends know if he needs help.

Note: Egmont Key Alliance is planning a workday Saturday September 23 to clear trails and general storm cleanup if Fort DeSoto and the Egmont Key Ferry are running. If you would like to help please contact Richard A. Sanchez (rsancz at and let him know you are a Friends of the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges member. You may need to fill out a state park volunteer form as well as the FWS form to give to Richard.

Adopt a Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nest – 2017

Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge 

Sea Turtle Survival Program

Why Should I Adopt a Nest ?
Because beach erosion and sea level rise create constant threats to nesting habitats, sea turtle nests need to be protected and monitored. By adopting a nest, you support educational programming and the Eckerd College interns who will protect, monitor, and collect nesting data during the nesting season.
For more info, visit our Adopt a Sea Turtle Nest page!

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 For other events visit What’s Happening page. If you’d like to volunteer to help on any bird surveys, in the Guardhouse as a docent, or at the festivals please contact Barb or 727-343-1272.

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Read the Fall issue of Friends Matter newsletter.

Mission Statement

Friends of the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges promote conservation, awareness, and appreciation of the Refuge Complex and provide assistance to the mission and programs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.
In Tampa Bay, we are fortunate to have three National Wildlife Refuges: Egmont Key, Passage Key, and the Pinellas Refuges. The Refuges’ natural areas provide prime habitat for migratory and beach nesting birds to safely “nest and rest” free from human interference. At Egmont Key, increasing numbers of sea turtles also find suitable and secure habitat for laying their eggs each breeding season, and a large and growing population of gopher tortoises safely move about the island, constructing burrows that protect them and many other species during severe storms.
As Friends of the Tampa Bay National Wildlife Refuges, we:
  • Encourage membership through opportunities that support the efforts of the Fish and Wildlife Service at the Tampa Bay Refuges.
  • Raise money to fund conservation, preservation, and educational projects in support of the Tampa Bay Refuges and the National Refuge System.
  • Provide environmental education programs to elementary age students that takes them out of the classroom and into the school yard where they learn to relate conservation and sustainability concepts to their daily environment.
  • Sponsor periodic Refuge clean-ups of exotic plants, debris, and mono-filament that are damaging to wildlife and habitat.
  • Offer public educational programs on conservation and preservation topics, the Tampa Bay Refuges, and the national Refuge System.
  • Provide bird stewards at Egmont Key who monitor secured areas and ensure that birds can safely nest and rest during periods of high boater visitation to the island.
  • Survey nesting and resting birds at the Pinellas Refuges each month to measure changes in population and evaluate effectiveness of conservation programs.