Located off the coast of the City of Cedar Key, Atsena Otie was a proposed housing development in the early 1990s. The FNCC encouraged and lobbied for the public acquisition of the island. It is a historical land site . Until 1896 it was occupied by townspeople and the Eberhard Faber (Pencil) Company cedar lumber mill. Many of the pioneer families of Cedar Key lived on Atsena Otie until the hurricane of 1896. Today the island is open to the public.
The very old cemetery has been faithfully and carefully restored under the leadership of FNCC board member Erik Brogren. Atsena Otie is now owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District. The project is managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service of the Lower Suwannee and Cedar Key Refuges.
To learn more about the colorful history of Atsena Otie, please visit the US Fish and Wildlife site.
Cedar Key Railroad Trestle Nature Trail
The FNCC developed this trail in Cedar Key and maintains it along with the very welcome help of the City of Cedar Key. The trail is located on Grove Street just off State Road 24 and is open to the public for daytime use. The use is restricted to pedestrians only.
The trail's path is an easy walk (1,700 feet) beneath towering pines, beside aromatic cedars, and among dozens of varieties of native plants and wildflowers. Each season brings a new vista of the trail, bringing an ever-changing host of wildlife. Migratory songbids stop to rest among the swaying grasses. Butterflies dance atop the flowers. Ospreys swoop and cry overhead as they hunt for fish in the quiet backwaters. Ibis and rare roseate spoonbills dredge the shoreline for their morning feast.
The native plants along the trail are identified with markers and a bit of history about each plant provided by FNCC board member Lovett Williams. The City of Cedar Key also provides for public protection along the trail. Cedar Key Development Company and now Nature's Landing Condominium Association have made the trail available to FNCC and the public.
The area is perfect for a contemplative walk, and offers a multitude of opportunities for photographers and artists. Birding enthusiasts will be thrilled by the number and variety of species that flock to this serene back marsh.
Railroad historians can tread the path of the old Fernandina to Cedar Key rail lin, and look across the marsh to where the line once connected with the main shipping dock. Some of the old trestle posts are still visible at the water's edge.
A Brief History of the Old Rail Line
The first train arrived in Cedar Key on March 1, 1861 and brought with it a new era of prosperity to this island community. Daily passenger and freight services from Fernandina Beahc continued until the early 1880s when Henry Plant's railroad bypassed Cedar Key for the larger port of Tampa. Service to the island gradually declined until the last train departed from Cedar Key on July 7, 1932.
The abandoned rail line was quickly reclaimed by native vegetation and wildlife. When development mushroomed again in the late 1990s it became readily apparent that action was needed to preserve some of the pristine habitat areas. The trail project became a viable solution to that need for preservation. Not only did it create a habitat refuge, it also preserved a small piece of Cedar Key's history.
Cedar Key Cemetery Point Park
The park belongs to the City of Cedar Key and is now being developed with a recreation grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The development includes boardwalk access, a restroom, an exercise trail, a picnic pavilion, a playground for children and an overlook. It is handicapped accessible.
FNCC partnered with the City of Cedar Key and the help of many folks to prepare the original application to the Florida Communities Trust (FCT). In 2002 FNCC board members traveled to Tallahassee representing the local interests in Cemetery Point and presented the proposal to FCT's board of directors. The project was approved. The FNCC continues to advise and assist in the development of the park.
Section 29 in Cedar Key
In 2003, Mr. and Mrs. Ronnie Taylor granted Section 29 in and around Cedar Key to the FNCC. Section 29 refers to the historic land description of all of the historic area of Cedar Key.
Today it is more than 400 acres of water and oyster bars and a few small islands. The land and water can be seen on both sides of State Road 24 as one travels toward Cedar Key from the Number Four bridge. The project is managed pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding between the FNCC and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The basic purpose of the project is conservation and preservation. On the map below, property of FNCC is enclosed in orange.
Jack Jones Estate
The FNCC has received a generous gift of property from the heirs of the late Jack Jones. The property is mostly shallow estuarine waters in the northern part of Tyre Creek bayou and includes oyster bars and very small tidal islands. The property is the residual of Cedar Key Shores subdivision.