Wildlife Refuge Plans to Open this Fall near Navarre

By Duwayne Escobedo | 315-4489 | @DuwayneENWFDN | descobedo@nwfdailynews.com
Posted Aug 15, 2019 at 11:59 AM

HOLLEY — Bill Andersen worked Wednesday to complete a sixth habitat for its animal ambassador, Riley the striped skunk.

“We’re going to have a very happy skunk on our hands,” said Anderson, as he left a growing tree for it to play on.

It is part of the new $1 million digs for the popular Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge being built on a wooded 2.3-acre parcel in Holley just north of Navarre off State Road 87. The refuge rehabilitates and releases injured or orphaned wildlife indigenous to Northwest Florida. It also responds to strandings of marine life along an 85-mile stretch of Gulf Coast beaches.

Plans call for two more than 2,000-square-foot buildings for education and outreach and for rehabilitation. It will include 23 habitats total, mostly for the wildlife refuge’s ambassadors, which are animals too injured or too dependent on people to live in the wild.

Bill and his wife, Carol, who goes by the nickname “Stormy,” donated the land, which is part of their 6-acre property that includes access to East Bay.

The wildlife refuge has outgrown the aging and cramped fire station on Okaloosa Island that it has used the past eight years to treat up to 2,000 animals annually.

Stormy Andersen, the refuge’s executive director, said she’s excited about opening the new place sometime in the fall. She likes that it has huckleberry, blueberry, persimmon, scuppernong and pear plants that can be used to feed the animals.

“I enjoy being in nature,” she said. “Everything feels right. There is an amazing sense of freedom out here. It’s better than being in a concrete jungle.”

The refuge set grand opening dates twice but since May 23 has waited on approval of a final building permit from Santa Rosa County. That’s because it changed its plans to allow the rehabilitation center to control the temperature in each room to provide better care to the 153 species of animals that live in Northwest Florida.

Now they hope to open in the fall.

By Duwayne Escobedo | 315-4489 | @DuwayneENWFDN | descobedo@nwfdailynews.com
Posted Aug 15, 2019 at 11:59 AM

Post a Comment