By WILLIAM M. HARTNETT
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
SEBASTIAN – Through freezes and hurricanes, tiny Pelican Island has literally clung to life, its sandy shores held together by little more than mangrove roots, its very existence under constant, subtle assault by the erosive currents of the Indian River Lagoon.
The national wildlife refuge that bears its name has grown to include thousands of acres on surrounding islands. The ponderous birds that made the island famous no longer number in the tens of thousands.
It is, by most measures of grandeur, as far removed from the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls as a backyard garden. And yet the attention of environmentalists across the country will be focused here Friday, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service marks the centennial of Pelican Island, the first of what has become a sprawling network of national wildlife refuges.