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WICHITA MOUNTAINS WILDLIFE REFUGE:
Southwest Region, June 8, 2007
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The Visitor Services program at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was incredibly busy during May.  New Visitor Center hours began on May 13.  The Visitor Center is now open from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. seven days a week.  Over 13,450 visitors stopped by the Visitor Center to learn about the Refuge and things going on at the Refuge.  Elise Smith conducted two book signings for her book “Wildflower Watching in the Wichitas”.  These book signings were accomplished in conjunction with the Association of the Friends of the Wichitas Wildflower Walks.  Approximately 50 visitors attended these programs.  Michael Hardeman conducted a book signing for his book Oklahoma – Wonder and Light on May 26.   Nearly 10,000 students attended hikes, educational sessions, and fishing classes on the Refuge during the month. Some of the education classes included prairie ecology, medicinal plants, and survival skills.  Mitch Meador from the Lawton Constitution wrote a story about the Refuge and making the Visitor Center more accessible to visitors by extending our visitor hours and taking tour reservations from here.  In addition he noted that volunteers are needed to help with the visitor program here at the refuge and from this publication, we have received ten new volunteers.

 

Refuge Biologists attended the Fish and Wildlife Service Bison Management meeting in Denver.  Over the next several years, the Refuge will be working to genetically test the Wichita Mountains herd in order to better understand what potential role the Refuge can play in broader efforts to manage bison across The System as a metapopulation.

 

During the first two weeks of May, the Refuge received nearly record amounts of rainfall.  On May 8, five inches fell during a two hour period causing widespread flash flooding.  The flooding caused the Refuge to declare a Level 3 Emergency Action Plan (EAP) flooding event for three of the Refuge’s five significant hazard dams.  By the evening of May 9, water levels dropped and the flood events were dropped to a Level 1.  The EAP event was terminated on May 16 following dam safety inspections by Region 2 and Region 9 engineers and URS Corporation.

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



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