Go Wild Outdoors in the Keys

March 10, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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KeyDeer1 (1)

By Sue Cocking, Guy Harvey Outpost staff writer


When most people visit the  Florida Keys, fishing and diving are foremost in mind.  But there is a heck of a lot more to take in on the wild side of this 110-mile long island chain than visitors might think:  four national wildlife refuges with a cornucopia of animals, birds, plants and insects to observe up close.

From March 17-20, families, nature photographers, birders and other outdoors enthusiasts are invited to the inaugural Outdoor Fest–four days of mostly free events showcasing unique flora and fauna from Key Largo to Key West.

Attendees will be able to take a behind-the-scenes kayak tour of the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo; observe beautiful sea birds at the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge in the Lower Keys; watch miniature endangered Key deer at the refuge named for the species on Big Pine Key; and go birding, sailing, snorkeling and kayaking in the Key West National Wildlife Refuge.

Other activities include a 12-mile natural history bike hike on Big Pine; geocaching; a 5K “Run with the Deer”; art and photography workshops; art and craft fair; walking tours; and a nighttime ‘moth-whisperer’ event.

The event is presented by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex and its booster organization, the Friends and Volunteers of Refuges (FAVOR).

“There’s so much overlap of government land down here,” said Kristie Killam, a park ranger with the Refuges Complex.  “We wanted to create an identity for ourselves.  We hope this is a way to educate people on how magnificent these four chunks of land are.”

Refuge biologists will introduce visitors to rarely-seen insects, reptiles and birds, including a tour of nest boxes erected for the endangered Key Largo wood rat.  And Killam especially recommends the evening presentations.

“All these night creatures will come in that you never get to see,” she said.  “It’s amazing what you see that you never thought of.”

Additional activities are planned before and after the festival.  For a complete schedule and to register for events, go to:  www.favorfloridakeys.org/outdoor-fest.


   Sue Cocking chronicles the Guy Harvey Outpost travel and adventure experience in regular blog posts on GuyHarveyOutpostNews.com/.  For 21 years, Cocking covered the full spectrum of outdoors adventure opportunities in South Florida and beyond for the Miami Herald, including fishing, diving, hunting, paddling camping, sailing and powerboat racing.  She is a certified scuba diver and holder of an IGFA women’s world fly fishing record for a 29-pound permit. 


  Share your photos, videos and experiences with Guy Harvey Outpost by hash tagging #OutpostAttitude to all of your social media posts.

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