The Friends of Crystal River National River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Inc. was organized in 1998 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization to support the then Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Secretary of State, Division of Corporations, State of Florida on September 23, 1998. The original name of the Corporation was Friends of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Inc. The Friends were granted Charitable Trust status by the State of Florida and is authorized to accept tax deductible donations and grants. The Friends offices and nature store are located at the Refuge Headquarters at 1502 SE Kings Bay Drive, Crystal River, FL 34429. They were granted tax exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service Department of The Treasury on June 3, 1999.
In January of 2012, because of the change of the name of the Refuge itself to the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Inc., the Friends name was changed to The Friends of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Inc. This was officially approved by the Secretary of State and filed as an amendment to the original Articles of Incorporation in January 2012. The name change was also filed with the Department of the Treasury. The Friends file an annual Form 990 tax return which is available to the public.
The Friends has operated successfully in partnership with the Refuge over the past 16 years within the framework of the United States Department of the Interior, Director’s Order No. 183.
The Friends organization is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors numbering between 9 and 13 with a membership of approximately 200 individuals.
The Friends have donated more than $400,000 in funds and equipment to the Crystal River Refuge over this period, including a Marsh Master Amphibious Vehicle ($80,000), construction of a Viewing Tower, Pavilion and Hiking Trails on Refuge Property ($152,000), a Manatee Rescue Truck ($40,000), Boat and Manatee Rescue Net ($10,000), A bunkhouse and furnishings to house interns and visitors ($25,000), manatee aerial surveys ($20,000) an Elementary School Education Program ($18,000), construction of a pavilion on the Three Sisters property ($25,000), engineering drawings and permits for restoration of Three Sisters Springs banks ($13,000) and many smaller equipment, etc. donations which total close to another $75,000.