VERO BEACH — A wetland area, once under the threat of development nearly 50 years ago, is now teemingwith wildlife and will be the focus of Endangered Species Day. On Saturday, May 22, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and partners will be renaming a trail in memory of the late Joe Michael, an Orchid Island citrus grower, and dedicating a new wildlife observation deck that juts into the very salt marsh he fought so valiantly to protect nearly 50 years ago. The trail will be renamed the Joe Michael Memorial Trail and the observation deck named Joe’s Overlook.
A private family and partner dedication will take place in the morning with a public celebration from 10 am to 2 pm. The public celebration will kick off with guided driving tours to the new overlook, located one mile into the marshes of the Refuge.
“This is a one-time opportunity to ride out to the new overlook because vehicles aren’t permitted on the trail any other time” says Joanna Webb, Refuge Ranger at Pelican Island.
Driving tours will be ongoing from 10 am through 2 pm to give people the opportunity to visit this new facility that wouldn’t normally walk the 2 miles to get there and back.
Alongside of the driving tours, many other activities will be taking place at the main visitor area of the Refuge in celebration of Endangered Species Day. Started by the United States Senate, Endangered Species day is an opportunity for people young and old to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and how to protect our nation’s disappearing wildlife and last remaining open spaces.
“This is not a new concept, but something that has been central to Pelican Island from its beginnings over 100 years ago thanks to local citizens like Paul Kroegel and Joe Michael” says Webb.
These two gentlemen bravely stood up for what they thought was right and wrong and made historic achievements for conservation both locally and nationally.
Activities taking place from 10 am to 2 pm will include fish printing (first 50 kids receive a free t-shirt), make-a-manatee, butterfly gardening demonstrations with live caterpillars, endangered species educational displays including the “Suitcase for Survival” display of confiscated wildlife products from around the world, and free kayak tours to the famed Pelican Island bird nesting colony. Kayak tours will be first come, first serve with a maximum of 12 people per trip at 10:30 am, 12 pm, and 1:30 pm.
The event is free and brought to you by Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, South Florida Ecological Services Office and the Pelican Island Preservation Society.
For more information, call (772) 562-3909 x275 or visit http://www.fws.gov.