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Salt Plains NWR celebrates National Wildlife Refuge Week 2004
Southwest Region, October 20, 2004
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Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge celebrated National Wildlife Refuge Week 2004 with a variety of activities and events, including open house, birding tours, the 1st Annual Big Sit, the 1st Annual Women's Fishing Clinic and an outdoor day with Alva ISD!

The annual Open House was held October 9th through 11th. The refuge offered snacks and drinks to visitors as well as rulers, blue goose pens and pencils and featured the new NWR Week poster. This was the last weekend that visitors could fish and dig for selenite crystals on the refuge and visitors enjoyed taking advantage of the open visitor's center and the exhibits inside.

Fall Birding Tours were offered from October 9th through the 18th. Refuge volunteers Jack and Yvonna Hill came to the refuge to give the birding tours. Attendance this year was higher than in previous years with 62 birders attending the tours. Increased exposure from the new Ralstin Island cameras, the increasingly popular Eagle Watch and the Birding and Crystal Festival may have been reasons for the high level of attendance. The refuge is steadily becoming more popular for its birding opportunities.

The 1st Annual Big Sit was performed at the refuge on October 11th by refuge biologist, Ron Shepperd. As a test run to see how participation would be, the event was actually held as a little sit; instead of conducting the sit for 24 hours, the refuge held it for 12 hours. Participation was good as 9 birders came to the sand creek bay observation area on the Eagle Roost Nature Trail to count and identify birds for this program. 47 different species of birds were counted during the Big Sit.

The 1st Annual Women's Fishing Clinic was held October 16th at Bonham Pond. This clinic was a cooperative agreement between the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Byron State Fish Hatchery and the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. The clinic started at 8am on what started out as a very cold day. Fish Hatchery staff, Julia Matlock, taught the clinic to 3 participants including refuge volunteer, Keitha Dale, refuge ORP, Emily Hile, and a visitor that traveled from Oklahoma City to attend the clinic. Although participation was low, the clinic was deemed a success as it brought interest from many hours away and prepared the refuge ORP to assist and take over youth fishing clinics with the local fish hatchery.

The Alva ISD Outdoor Day was a success. The refuge participates in 2-3 of these days each year. The fall outdoor day worked with 130 1st and 2nd graders. The 1st graders learned about habitat, the value of conserving habitat, habitat loss and how the NWR System works to provide habitat for wildlife. 2nd graders also learned about habitat - playing a game to show them about predator and prey relationships, wildlife needs and migration. The program was put on by the refuge OA, Margaret Gregory and refuge volunteer, Micah Gregory.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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