John Kasbohm, Refuge Manager
Cedar Keys NWR
16450 NW 31st Place
Chiefland, FL 32626
Phone: 352/493 0238
Fax: 352/493 1935
* Established: 1929.
* Acres: approximately 760.
* Located in Levy County, FL.
* Location: the refuge is comprised
of 12 offshore islands, around the
town of Cedar Key, ranging in
size from a few acres up to 120
acres. Access is by boat only.
* Administered by Lower
Suwannee National Wildlife
* Four of the islands, Snake,
Deadman's, Seahorse, and North
are designated as Wilderness
* One of the largest colonial bird
nesting sites in north Florida is
located on the refuge.
* White ibis, brown pelican, great
blue heron, little blue heron, tri-
colored heron, night heron,
snowy egret, great egret, and
cormorant nest on the refuge, as
do bald eagle and osprey.
* Important part of eco-tourism in
* Protects water quality for
important shell fishing and
* No staff or funding. Personnel
from Lower Suwannee National
Wildlife Refuge have
responsibility for Cedar Keys
* 65,000 visitors annually.
m Manage and conserve the natural
diversity, abundance, and
ecological function of refuge flora
and fauna, with an emphasis on
protecting the colonial wading
bird rookery of Seahorse Key,
threatened and endangered
species, and species of special
concern in the State of Florida.
* Protect refuge natural, cultural
and wilderness resources to
ensure their integrity and to
fulfill the mission of the National
Wildlife Refuge System.
* Provide opportunities for
interpretation and wildlife-
dependent recreation when
compatible with the purpose,
mission and vision of the refuge
and that will not negatively
impact critical or sensitive
* Promote collaboration and
partnerships with private citizens
and other agencies to increase
research and environmental
education opportunities and to
protect the coastal ecosystem.
* Law enforcement.
* Biological monitoring.
* The University of Florida utilizes
the lighthouse and associated
facilities as a Marine Science
Laboratory for research and
Public Use Opportunities
* Because of its small size and
importance to wildlife, Cedar
Keys Refuge can support only
limited public use.
* Walking trail and interpretive
kiosk on Atsena Otie Key.
* Birdwatching and scenic, natural
* Saltwater fishing from beach and
the dock on Atsena Otie Key.
* In order to protect the nesting
birds on Seahorse Key, public
entry and use is prohibited from
March 1 to June 30. The closed
area includes all of Seahorse Key
and a 300-foot buffer zone around
U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service
Ceda Key Naioa Widlf Reug
Calendar of Events:
January: Wintering waterfowl
abundant in Gulf.
February: Ospreys begin nesting.
March 1 June 30: Seahorse Key and
300 foot buffer zone around the island
CLOSED to protect colonial nesting
March: Spring bird migration begins.
April: Peak of Spring migration,
Naturefest late March, early April,
annually, Cedar Keys Arts Festival -
third weekend in April.
May: International Migratory Bird
June August: Great time to explore
the islands and Gulf of Mexico by
August 15 September 15: Peak fall
migration of shore birds.
October: National Wildlife Refuge
Week, Open House at Seahorse Key
Lighthouse, Cedar Keys Seafood
Festival-third weekend in October.
December: Audubon Christmas Bird
Questions and Answers
How do I get to Cedar Keys NWR ?
Cedar Keys NWR consists of 12
islands off shore from the town of
Cedar Key, Florida. The refuge is
only accessible by boat. In the town of
Cedar Key there are private
enterprises that rent boats or offer
tour boat rides that will take you to
Can any boat go to these islands?
Yes, you can take your own boat to
the islands. However, it is important
to pay attention to the weather and
tide conditions. All the islands are
surrounded by shallow mud flats.
During low tides the islands are
relatively inaccessible. Also, if you
beach your boat on the islands during
high tide your boat will be out of the
water during low tide. This will leave
you stranded until the tide returns.
Are we allowed to walk where ever we
want on Cedar Keys NWR ?
Atsena Otie Key has walking trails
through the interior of the island. For
public safety and to protect the
vegetation, the interior of the other
islands is closed. These islands have
thick undergrowth vegetation along
with poisonous rattlesnakes and
cottonmouth snakes. Visitors are
welcome to explore the beach areas of
all the islands, except Seahorse Key,
during the bird nesting period.
When can we visit Seahorse Key?
Seahorse Key supports one of the
largest colonial bird rookeries in
north Florida. During the nesting
period, March 1 through June 30, the
island is closed to all public entry.
This includes a 300-foot buffer zone in
the Gulf of Mexico, around the island.
Are we allowed to visit the lighthouse
on Seahorse Key?
The lighthouse and other facilities
around it are utilized by the
University of Florida as a marine
laboratory and classroom. In order to
protect the university's equipment
and the students that stay there, the
lighthouse is not open to the public.
When the university is not using the
lighthouse, other schools (elementary
school through college) and
organizations are allowed to utilize
the marine lab for environmental
education. Twice a year the refuge
holds an open house on Seahorse Key.
During this time, refuge staff are
stationed on the island and the public
is permitted to visit the lighthouse.