Description - The historic St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge is a large barrier island, four miles wide and nine miles long. It was inhabited as early as 240 A.D. and is known to have been visited by Franciscan friars in the early 1600s. Over its history, private landowners developed the island into a preserve housing Asian and African wildlife and an assortment in between. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased the island in 1968 bringing an end to the exotic jungle. Re-establishment of native birdlife and wildlife and their habitats have been very successful. Low-impact recreation is permitted. A visitor center rests on the mainland in the town of Apalachicola.
Copyright: - US Fish and Wildlife Service
Common Birdlife at National Wildlife Refuge
- St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, in Franklin County, Florida, is an undeveloped barrier island just offshore from the mouth of the Apalachicola River, in the Gulf of Mexico. Dune ridges have dissected the island, which are geological records of ancient beaches and fluctuating sea levels over the last 5,000 years. Many of the sand roads follow these ridges, extending from east to west the length of the island. The interdune areas vary from freshwater lakes and sloughs on the east end to dry upland pine forests on the western end of the island.
The climate is mild and subtropical, typical of the Gulf of Mexico, with an average annual rainfall of 57 inches. Four miles wide at the east end and nine miles long, this triangular island is larger and wider than most of the northern Gulf coast barrier islands. The refuge preserves highly varied plant and animal communities.
Characteristic habitats are wetlands, consisting of tidal marsh and freshwater lakes and streams; dunes dominated by live oak / mixed hardwood hammocks, scrub oaks, or live oak / scrub oak mix; stands of cabbage palm; and four different slash pine communities, each with its own unique understory species.
Initially, the refuge was established for waterfowl, but its mission has been broadened to include the protection of habitat for endangered species and to provide a variety of recreational activities. Several endangered and threatened species benefit from the habitats described including the red wolf, Southern bald eagle, piping plover, wood stork, American alligator, Eastern Indigo snake, and loggerhead sea turtle.
Recreation - Visitors touring St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge may want to begin their journey at the refuge's visitor center located in the town of Apalachicola. In addition to maps of the island, the center offers environmental education programs giving a history of the barrier island and the conservation efforts since 1968. Hunting is restrictions and regulations are provided at the visitor center. Fishing, boating, canoeing and hiking are enjoyed around and on the island.
Climate - The panhandle area of Florida experiences mild, comfortable winters and warm to hot, humid summers. The average summer temperatures reach well above 83 degrees Fahrenheit (above 29 Celsius). Winters are mild with temperatures averaging below 52 degrees Fahrenheit (below 11 Celsius). The average precipitation for the panhandle area is more than 60 inches per year. August and September are peak months of the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through November 30.
St. Vincent Island rests several miles southwest of Apalachicola in the Gulf of Mexico along Florida's lower panhandle.