A project at the refuge began in the spring of 2002 - the transformation of our headquarters lawn into an oasis for birds and butterflies. With the establishment of the "Centennial Willldlife Habitat Garden", visitors to the refuge can now learn about Native trees, shrubs, and flowers that they can plant in their own backyard that provide food and shelter to birds and butterflies. Then Refuge Manager Libby Herland secured a $5,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which was matched by cash donations, discounts from local nurseries, and the effort of volunteers to plan and build this garden. The garden was named to recognize the 100th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System which is also in 2003.
Vernon resident Dennis Miranda provided the design and the impetus for the garden. The Vernon Civic Association, local businessman Gene Mulvihill, Kuperus Farmside Gardens, Katterman's and Fair Acres Farm contributed financially to this project. Our great volunteers dug, weeded and made the garden a reality.
In addition to plants, the garden features an arbor built by Eagle Scout Candidate Chris Ball and wooden benches were built by Eagle Scout CandidateMike Mezejewski. About 90% of the work involved in this garden was done by volunteers.
About 90% of the work involved in this garden was done by volunteers.
In the spring of 2008 Ray and Jean Cramer began working on the gardens with an effort to reduce invasives and introduce more native plants.
In 2009 the gardens were expanded. The north side of the house was planted with more ferns and shade loving wildflowers. Around the building some non natives (butterfly bush, trumpet vines, some annuals, etc were planted to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The overall plantings include many shrubs that produce fruit/seeds for the birds (winterberry, bayberry, viburnums, etc.). Lorraine Virga added much welcomed help in the gardens.
If you have any surplus native plants or time, we welcome your donations and/or help. Please call the refuge office.
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The federally threatened bog turtle can be found in wetlands throughout the Wallkill River valley and the Papakating Creek Watershed. Endangered by habitat loss and poaching (the diminutive turtle is favored among illegal pet traders), this turtle is an important focus of the refuge’s conservation work. Due to their listed status, refuge public use areas are located away from sensitive bog turtle habitats.