Description - Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge is in Wakulla, Jefferson, and Taylor counties along the Gulf coast of north Florida. The refuge is approximately 25 miles south of the state's capitol, Tallahassee. The refuge encompasses 65,000 acres divided into two tracts. An addition 18,000 acres are designated wilderness. Natural salt marshes, tidal flats and freshwater impoundments harbor a large variety of wildlife, including 434 vertebrate species, excluding fish. Over quarter million visitors enjoy a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities annually. Children from across the state partake in school-year field trips highlighting the importance of providing protective and healthy habitats.
Copyright: - US Fish and Wildlife Service
Expansive Wetlands Amid National Wildlife Refuge
- Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge lies in the North Central Florida comprising a variety of habitats including brackish marshes, hardwood swamps, pine flatwoods, along with pine and oak uplands. The topography is flat, with soils and woodlands interspersed with ponds and sawgrass sloughs. Elevations range from the open water of Apalachee Bay and the barrier beach to approximately 30 feet above mean sea level. In addition, there are seven rivers and many creeks crossing the refuge. The average daytime temperature is 68 degrees, with the average rainfall at 55 inches.
With its wide diversity of habitats, Saint Marks supports an abundance of wildlife species, including nearly a dozen on the federal list of endangered species three on Florida's threatened species list.
Both resident and migratory birds benefit from marsh and uplands management programs. About 270,000 visitors participate in nature photography, bird watching, fishing, hiking, and other types of outdoor activities at the refuge each year.
The refuge provides outdoor classroom programs to roughly 6,000 school children yearly, and educational programs and events for the public on key resource issues, such as migratory songbirds, monarch butterflies, and longleaf pine restoration.
Located near the state capitol and two large state universities, Saint Marks attracts visitors from around the state, country and world.
Recreation - Recreation opportunities at Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge include auto touring, boating, fishing, hiking, hunting and wildlife viewing. Five trails, ranging in difficulty from very easy to moderate, are open year-round at the two separate tracts. Many trails share trailheads and are well marked. Crabbing and scalloping are popular in season. A visitor center introduces the tourist to area's habitat, plant life, birdlife, and wildlife. Educational programs reinforce exhibits, books, maps, and displays. Note: feeding wildlife is prohibited. See Florida National Scenic Trail for details about St. Marks' segment.
Climate - Florida experiences mild, comfortable winters and warm to hot, humid summers. The area offers a great warm escape for outdoor recreation during the cold northern months. Summer temperatures average in the low 80's Fahrenheit and mid 20's Celsius. Winters are mild with temperatures averaging between the high 40's to the high 50's Fahrenheit. The average precipitation for the north central area is diverse. The central western area receives more than 60 inches per year while the central eastern tract receives about 50 inches. August and September are peak months of the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 through November 30.
Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge is located approximately 25 miles south of Tallahassee off U.S. Highway 98. Two separate parcels are located Gulfside.