J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge unveiled an interactive touchscreen display at its visitor/education center this spring. The display, which has the feel and utility of a personal computer screen, is a hit, according to supervisory refuge ranger Toni Westland. Everybodys using it, she says, but kids especially are always gravitating toward the technology. The capstone of the display is an interactive U.S. map that a user can touch to learn of the refuges in any of the 50 states. The four North American migratory bird flyways overlay the map, which is accompanied by an audio clip about the Refuge Systems mission, history and scope. The touchscreen also includes slideshows, descriptions and/or audiovideo clips about Jay Norwood Ding Darling; the Duck Stamp program; the refuge Friends group; and waterfowl wood sculptor Jim Sprankle. Perhaps most popular, though, is a waterfowl wood carvings display. When a user touches a bird image on that display, that bird comes to life in front of you, says Westland. While the birds call plays on audio, a split screen shows the carving, a photo of the bird, a wow! fact about the bird and flyway information. Importantly, says Westland, the entire display, which was funded the Friends group (the Ding Darling Wildlife Society), is bright, flashy and strategically located in a spot where the refuges 700,000 annual visitors cant miss it.
The volunteer program at San Diego National Wildlife Refuge got a nice boost in May. The Earth Discovery Institute received a $103,000 grant from a San Diego Association of Governments TransNet Environmental Mitigation Program to assist the refuge and its partners with community and volunteer events. Volunteers have helped the 9,000plusacre refuge plant native grasses and shrubs from seed in uplands near its vernal pools; clean up trash; install fencing; repair trails; plant acorns of coastal live oak and Engelmann oaks; install nest boxes for burrowing owls and bluebirds; and otherwise improve habitat, according to refuge manager Jill Terp. That work, facilitated by the Conservation Biology Institute, has benefited at least 16 listed species and more than 40 locally sensitive species, Terp said. The new grant will help the refuge leverage our limited staff and fundingand that of our partner agenciesby having a dedicated coordinator who does volunteer/outreach work on our behalf, she said. More important to me, were developing the publics appreciation of the amazing biological diversity of San Diego that our landscapelevel regional conservation program [the Multiple Species Conservation Program] was created 15 years ago to protect.
MountainPrairie Regional Refuge Chief
Matt Hogan, assistant regional director for Migratory Birds and Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration for the MountainPrairie Region, has been named the regions refuge chief. Over the past year, he also has served as the regions Americas Great Outdoors coordinator, working on a number of large landscape conservation initiatives. Previously, Hogan was executive director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) in Washington, DC. Before that, he worked for the Service and the Department of the Interior in several leadership roles in Washington.
Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge this spring acquired Sugar Island, an uninhabited 30acre island that had been privately owned. The islandpurchased for $434,100 with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative fundingwill be closed to the public, except perhaps during hunting seasons. A proposed hunting plan is under review. This significant addition to the refuge permanently protects the island for fish and wildlife populations, and helps protect our internationally renowned natural capital that enriches our quality of life and is a gift to future generations, said refuge manager John Hartig. The refuge includes more than 5,700 acres along 48 miles of the lower Detroit River and western Lake Erie.
The Service and several partners have been presented with the Oregon 2012 Fishery Team of the Year Award for the Nilestun Tidal Marsh Restoration Project at Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. The 418acre tidal marsh restoration project was completed last summer under the direction of Oregon Coast Refuge Complex project leader Roy Lowe. It is the largest tidal marsh restoration project ever constructed in Oregon and is benefiting a host of estuarinedependent fish, particularly salmonids, which include coastal cutthroat trout, juvenile Chinook salmon and threatened coho salmon. In addition to the Service, partners recognized included the Federal Highway Administration, the Coquille Indian Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited and the Estuarine Technical Group of the Institute for Applied Ecology. The Oregon chapter of the American Fisheries Society presented the award.
New pocket guides for Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge (Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota) and St. Croix Wetland Management District (Wisconsin) give visitors a handy way to identify what they are seeing. Friends of the Refuge Headwaters helped produce a fullcolor glossy guide to common species at Upper Mississippi River Refuge. Friends sold half of the first printing of 1,000 to other Friends groups along the river as well as to such organizations as the Minnesota Marine Art Museum and the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. The guide includes a scannable code leading to the refuge Facebook page. At St. Croix WMD, a Friends auto tour birding guide describes wildlife, waterfowl production and wildlife management areas. The guide includes history, birds of interest, difficulty of hikes, driving directions, helpful advice and tidbits about conservation, Friends projects and management practices such as prescribed burns and grazing.
Perchetti, Minch Receive Awards
Two Refuge System employeesone from each coasthave been honored for their work in the field.
Sandy Perchetti, volunteer and community partnership coordinator at New Jerseys Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, is the Service 2012 Legends Award recipient. The award recognizes Perchetti for achievements in bridging the gap between children and the outdoors. Last year, Perchetti lead the creation of an outdoor Childrens Nature Discovery Area at the refuge. The area is a safe, userfriendly and fun place where parents and children can be introduced to the outdoors. To reinforce the connection with nature, natural materials are used throughout the area, which includes arrowheads, puzzles, digging screens, rain sticks, a nature art table, a discovery table, natural picnic tables, tree blocks, benches, a natural balance beam, a nestbuilding station and a discovery tunnel. The Legend Award is presented annually by the American Recreation Coalition, in partnership with the Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Highway Administration.
Carmen Minch, an outdoor recreation planner at San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, has been chosen as a Beacon Award winner by the American Recreation Coalition. The Beacon Award is given annually to federal land management agency employees who stand out in the field of information and technology. Minch was recognized for incorporating technology into interpretive and recreational programs, public outreach and other visitor services at the refuge complex. She has increased the complexs use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, social media, quick response (QR) code projects, touchscreen exhibits and partner Web sites to reach new and diverse audiences. She also has inspired numerous hightech events at the refuge complex. Her article about partnering with iNaturalist.org on Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Refuges first BioBiltz appeared in the March/April 2012 issue of Refuge Update. Most recently, Minch received a Friends group grant to bring WiFi to the complexs visitor facilities. Wireless will allow staff and visitors to use a range of programs that utilize apps and other online tools.
An osprey carrying nesting material soars over Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge this spring. The refuge is 20 miles south of Washington, DC, at the confluence of the Potomac and Occoquan Rivers.
Credit: Megan Peritore