A new way to enter Atsena Otie

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By Pam Darty

Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is feeling the crunch of the sequestration in a variety of ways; therefore management has to make tough decisions.  Conservation of habitat and public lands is vitally important to the mission of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  As a result a new boardwalk has been constructed on Atsena Otie in order to protect the ancient midden side of the island from any more erosion.

Thirty-five feet of land mass has eroded away since 2002, dropping the ruins of Faber Mill onto the beach. Many measures have been taken to stop visitors from climbing onto the dock from the beach to no avail.  A trail was constructed along the island’s edge to provide an entrance trail, but this may have added to the erosion problem.  Now, there is a safe, scenic entrance to the popular recreation spot.

Most of the staff and the Youth Conservation Corps from the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuges spent many hot, humid hours setting the pilings and pounding boards in order to save habitat and provide a path for visitor sightseeing along the historic island’s trail.