The first national wildlife refuge was established in 1903 as a result of concerned citizens. Volunteers continue to create major impacts on refuges around the country 110 years later. Whether working directly with refuge staff or as a member of the over 200 refuge Friends organizations, supportive citizens keep refuges running.
At Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, volunteers help with biological programs such as “nest-sitting” with loggerhead sea turtle nests, waiting for hatchlings to emerge. Volunteers also form an important part of the Refuge Visitor Services program, greeting the public and providing information in our Visitor Contact Station. Trail maintenance and construction projects would not be possible without the help of dedicated volunteers who keep weeds, poison ivy and branches away from the walkways. Several special volunteer days are also held throughout the year to clean up refuge beach and trail areas. If you are interested in volunteering please contact the Visitor Services Manager at (757)301-7329. Opportunities are often seasonal in nature.
Back Bay Restoration Foundation (BBRF) has supported Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge since its inception in 1986. The mission of BBRF is to preserve, protect and improve Back Bay and its watershed through stewardship, education and outreach. The Blue Goose Tram, a guided tour through the Refuge and False Cape State Park, is run by BBRF volunteers. A variety of educational programs are co-hosted by BBRF and Back Bay NWR. Many volunteers participate in activities for both organizations, striving to improve and protect the Refuge and the Back Bay watershed as a whole. Please visit www.bbrf.org for more information.
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American bitterns are year-round inhabitants of Virginia Beach and members of the heron family. These birds are typically very shy and secretive, hiding among reeds and grasses along the edges of lakes and bays. There are a few very friendly bitterns at Back Bay though, so keep your eyes peeled and camera ready next time you are in the area. Their camouflage is excellent so we must be attentive to detail to spot these beautiful birds.