St. Petersburg Times Online: Citrus County news
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Manatee Festival

National Wildlife Refuge System

By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 10, 2003

The system celebrates its centennial year in 2003 with special events throughout the country.

Florida boasts 28 national wildlife refuges, including two in Citrus County that provide manatee habitat: the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge and the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Refuge, which was established in 1941.

Florida refuges protect more than 977,000 acres primarily for fish and wildlife. Nearly 3-million people visit refuges each year, resulting in $74-million annually in recreational spending.

Nationwide there are more than 538 refuges encompassing nearly 94-million acres. The first of those sanctuaries was established in 1903 in Florida at Pelican Island by President Theodore Roosevelt.


Basic facts

  • Established in 1983
  • Encompasses 46 acres
  • Comprised of 20 islands and several small parcels of land surrounded by Kings Bay
  • Helps preserve the most significant, naturally occurring warm-water refuge for the manatee and provides critical habitat for approximately 25 percent of the endangered manatee population
  • Approximately 600-million gallons of fresh water flow daily from more than 30 natural springs at a constant temperature of 72 degrees
  • An estimated 100,000 visitors annually
  • Refuge administered with a 10-person staff by the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge

Objectives include

  • Protect critical wintering habitat and individuals of the Crystal River herd of endangered West Indian manatee
  • Provide habitat and protection for other wildlife species including wading birds, raptors, alligators and fish
  • Provide wildlife-dependent recreation and environmental education for the public

Public use opportunities

  • Diving and snorkeling
  • Wildlife observation
  • Sport fishing
  • Nature photography
  • Motorized and nonmotorized boating

Management activities

  • Law enforcement
  • Designated manatee sanctuaries Nov. 15 through March 31
  • Designated slow and idle boat speed zones
  • Aerial manatee surveys
  • Aquatic vegetation surveys
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Manatee education center (at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park)
  • Manatee watch volunteer program
  • Manatee rescue team
  • Partnerships


For more information:

James Kraus, refuge manager
Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex
1502 SE Kings Bay Drive
Crystal River, FL, 34429

PHONE: 563-2088

FAX: (352) 795-7961


Back to Citrus County news

Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111

From today's
Citrus Times
  • Family suffers in fire's wake
  • Toddler's death ruled a homicide
  • Water managers lowering lake levels
  • Security door malfunctions injure courthouse visitors
  • Let the parrot in your head fly free
  • This week: Citrus
  • Lloyd Webber's tale of Joseph's magic coat coming to Ocala
  • Preps: New district alignment removes some obstacles
  • Preps: 'Canes passing tough tests
  • Letters: Need outweighs opposition on Sugarmill Woods center

  • Manatee Festival
  • Polishing jewel of a park
  • Mender of manatees
  • Watching the Blue Waters
  • Nature's business
  • Where to go for educational information
  • Guest Column: Stay the course to preserve a living part of Old Florida
  • Crystal River lauds its favorite marine mammal
  • Manatee-related web sites
  • National Wildlife Refuge System
  • Legal protection
  • Guidelines for manatee interaction
  • How to adopt a manatee
  • What to do if you see an injured manatee
  • The Friends of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge
  • Where to see a manatee
  • Manatee facts