Storm Damage  
  At the time of publishing this October Reflections newsletter, Refuge staff and sister-refuge staff are assessing and repairing damage to clear debris in order to SAFELY reopen the Refuge. Initially, it appears as if damage was not as severe as feared, given a category 4 hurricane.  But, until the assessments are completed, we don't know the true severity of damage. Call the Refuge offices at (850) 925-6121 before visiting to assure that the Refuge IS open.  In these early days after the storm, it's not a bad idea to check in at the Visitors Center when you do visit to be apprised of any hazardous areas to avoid, depending upon the activity you may be pursuing.
In general, two things we DO know about damage is that the lighthouse stairway, just at the base of the tower, was swept away by the storm. And, as you might guess, there is considerable roadway debris in many areas (like that shown at left) that will take time to correct completely.  
We are all hopeful that our Friends made it through the storm with limited property damage. We also hope that our sensitive plant and animal communities, while undoubtedly impacted, will continue to be as resilient as they have after other major historic weather events such as this.  Finally, a huge note of thanks to staff and others who may have helped in our current recovery efforts.    
Article, the editor; photos courtesy of the Refuge, Terry Peacock  

Lighthouse Opening Huge Success
The St. Marks Lighthouse Keeper's Quarters hosted its first event for the public on Saturday, September 29. With o nly 15 tickets available for each 30-minute time slot that was scheduled throughout the day, a grand total of 112 enthusiastic visitors reveled in this long-awaited event.
Visitors shared comments, stories and memories throughout the day. The photo shown here gives evidence to the attentive audiences that took advantage of this first-ever opening. 
With the "Grand Reveal" behind us, the Refuge will begin opening the Keeper's Quarters the first Friday and Saturday of each month from 10 am - 4 pm, with the same ticketing process used for the opening.  
For further information, contact Constance Clineman at the Refuge. 
Article, editor; photo courtesy Constance Clineman 

The Annual Monarch Butterfly Festival 
Just a Couple Weeks Away

Saturday, October 27, 10 am - 4 pm
The summer storms are gone, and the temperatures are cooling down just in time for another fantastic festival to celebrate our beloved monarch butterflies and their host milkweed plants. Saturday the 27th is the big day, of course, when vendors set-up with displays and provide valuable information on all sorts of wildlife topics. Music and food help to round out the day.

You won't want to miss the annual Monarch Festival. We'll all see you there.
The editor 

Area-X T-Shirts Available Now      
I can hear some of the questions from many of you as I write this.  Just what the devil is 'Area-X'?   
Area-X is a mysterious, pristine uninhabited wilderness that is cut off from the rest of civilization in the eco-thriller Southern Reach Trilogy by NY Times best-selling and Tallahassee author, Jeff VanderMeer. The first book of the trilogy has been made into the 2018 movie Annihilation. His extensive hiking and observations of wildlife and his love of the Refuge led him to base the setting for his book here. A huge note of gratitude is due Jeff as he  has generously authorized us to produce and sell an Area-X t-shirt. All proceeds go to the Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge to benefit Refuge programs.  
The story line of the movie/book led a small team of creative store volunteers to design the new t-shirt that is selling very aggressively, locally and internationally.  We are happy to offer it to our Refuge visitors in our gift shop, and as you can see from the photo at left, we are sure to have your size waiting for you.  Here's your big chance to own a unique shirt while supporting your favorite wildlife destination.    
Article courtesy Melissa Jacoby, Friends Board Secretary. Thanks to her for coordinating this effort with Jeff.  

Watercolor Class - Saturday, November 10   
Join Friends Board of Directors' member, Phillip Pollock, on Saturday, November 10, from 1-3:30 pm as he leads intermediate level artists through some important watercolor concepts for landscape painting.  
Lots of participant painting and instructor feedback will take place in this session.  There is no fee for the class, though, as always, there is an entrance fee to the Refuge.       
Call the Refuge at (850) 925-6121 to register. Be sure to give the receptionist your email address so you can receive a course description from yours truly in advance of the class. The class is limited to six participants.
The editor

A Few Friends Notes 
Smith Island Is Officially Ours
The Friends of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge have finished the arduous paper-signings, bringing closure to this lengthy process of property transfer. The island is now officially owned 100% by Friends. Stay tuned as more information becomes available about this important acquisition.
Photo courtesy the Refuge   
Monarch Tagging 
David Cook, FWCC, will once again lead monarch tagging efforts, commencing Saturday, October 20 and continuing every Saturday through November 24. Call the Refuge at (850) 925-6121 for more information.
Reflections Newsletter Note
Beginning with this issue of Reflections, our newsletter will be distributed bi-monthly.  We will continue to give you plenty of advance notice on all events and highlight all important Friends and Refuge news; however, it will appear with less frequency.  Look forward to your next issue December 15. 

Have you considered including the Refuge in your will?  We would appreciate hearing from you if so. The Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge can provide information and guide you through the process. Just call the Refuge at 850-925-6121, and ask to be contacted by the Friends' Development Committee, or email us.
Reflections newsletter is a benefit of membership for Friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. It also serves as an important supplement to  
Both the newsletter and the web site provide members and the public information about volunteer activities and events at the Refuge.

Reflections Editor, Phillip M. Pollock