The Supporters of St Vincent National Wildlife Refuge hosted 20 Florida State University Environmental Science students last Saturday for a day of beach clean-up, assembly and installation of an informational trail marker, and assistance with placing markers to monitor coastal erosion.

The Supporters of St Vincent National Wildlife Refuge hosted 20 Florida State University Environmental Science students last Saturday for a day of beach clean-up, assembly and installation of an informational trail marker, and assistance with placing markers to monitor coastal erosion.

With the approach of spring migratory and nesting shore bird season, removal of harmful litter along our beaches is especially important. Entanglement in discarded fishing line and nets and ingestion of plastic kill and injure wild shorebirds and sea turtles each year.

One of the most poignant finds by FSU senior David Ruiz was a brown pelican that had been trapped and killed by lengths of fishing line. Hundreds of pounds of litter were taken off the Refuge on Saturday.

The students also assembled and placed an informational kiosk and trail marker just east of the point at Indian Pass. The white sand point is one of the most important resting areas on the Refuge for migratory birds after a long flight across the Gulf, and it is a critical nesting area for least terns, snowy plovers and others. It is closed to human entry. The new kiosk offers pleasing trail maps and interpretive images for our visitors, and we hope it will steer people safely away from the area protected for the birds.

Disturbance from humans or dogs interrupts a much needed break and wastes valuable energy needed by a host of species for their long migratory journeys. Other birds scratch a small nest in the sand. The eggs and chicks are sand colored and camouflaged making them barely visible to the human eye. The kiosk, trail and rope fencing guide visitors away from nesting areas.

The Supporters of St. Vincent NWR are grateful for partnerships that help boost management and protection of our unique local Refuge. For more information, visit www.stvincentfriends.com.