The staff at Desoto and Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuges hosted a celebration to thank more than 100 volunteers who helped build levees, pack artifacts and perform other tasks during last summers Missouri River flood. Refuge manager Tom Cox told the volunteers their efforts saved the refuges $27 million and preserved a national treasure. He said the cost estimate is based on discussions with engineers. The volunteers sandbagging and levee work lowered the level of the flood on the refuges by up to two feet. At DeSoto Refuge, the volunteers helped employees relocate a museum collection of 500,000 artifacts from the 1860s steamship Bertrand to temporary quarters. Cox said museum specialists had estimated the Bertrand collection would take three weeks to six months to evacuate. With the volunteer help, the collection was packed and moved in a week. That collection would not have survived, Cox told the volunteers. None of this would have been even remotely possible without your help. Even though the floodwaters never entered the main floor, the museum could not have maintained the climate necessary to preserve some of the artifacts had they not been relocated.
Newly established Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge opened to the public on a gorgeous autumn Sunday in late October. The refuges acquisition boundary encompasses more than 20,000 acres near the Delaware Water Gap 75 miles west of New York City. About 30 local residents and Friends of Cherry Valley spent the day hiking and cleaning two trails that had been blazed by Service workers last summer under the direction of refuge manager Mike Horne. The trails are on the pristine 185acre parcel that is the only holding of the refuge that was established in October 2010. The hilly woodland tract includes the headwaters of Cherry Creek and Aquashicola Creek. Friends of Cherry Valley plan to build photo blinds and small walkways over Cherry Creek this spring. The refuge will remain open to the public on Sundays, weather permitting.
2011 Federal Energy and Water Management Awards
Three refuges and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service engineer David Guthrie received 2011 Federal Energy and Water Management Awards. The refuge projects are: the visitor center at Assabet River Refuge, MA; the hybrid solar photovoltaic and wind energy system at Benton Lake Refuge, MT; and the headquarters office renovation at San Francisco Bay Refuge Complex, CA. In addition, the office/visitor center at Morris Wetland Management District, MN, was selected by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy as the subject of a leadership poster for the Federal Energy Management Programs You Have the Power campaign. The campaign was created in 1997 to help federal agencies reach energysaving goals by raising awareness about renewable energy, energy efficiency and water efficiency at federal facilities. We at the Fish and Wildlife Service are in the business of conservation, said Service Director Dan Ashe. David and all our energyconscious employees deserve praise and thanks for conserving water and energy, and taxpayer money.
Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge in the southwest part of the state celebrated the grand opening of the Pintail Drive Boardwalk. The halfmile boardwalk loop allows visitors to see everything from shore and wading birds to migratory passerines to whitetailed deer and coyotes to butterflies, says refuge visitor services manager Diane BordenBilliot. The boardwalk, which includes three sets of viewing scopes along the way, was funded with support from the Federal Highway Administrations National Scenic Byways competitive grants program, the Creole Nature Trail All American Road and the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, according to BordenBilliot. The boardwalk loop traverses shallow wetlands interspersed with elevated ridges under normal rainfall conditions, but now the majority of the area is dry because of severe drought conditions. Cameron Prairie Refuge, created in 1988, was the first refuge established under the auspices of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
As part of a community service initiative, the Washington College baseball team assisted in the annual cleanup at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in late October, collecting about 450 pounds of trash and several tires. Washington College is a small liberal arts school in Chestertown, not far from the refuge. The refuge is a 2,285acre island at the confluence of the Chester River and Chesapeake Bay. It provides habitat for more than 240 bird speciesincluding American bald eagles and transitory peregrine falconsand is a major staging site for tundra swans.
An enormous bald cypress at White River National Wildlife Refuge has been formally recognized as the states largest tree. The tree measures roughly 120 feet high, 43 feet around and 14 feet wide. Every time I see it, Im still impressed, Arkansas Forestry Commission ranger Shane Booth said at a dedication ceremony honoring the tree. You can tell anybody you want, show them pictures, but until they see it ... they dont understand. The refuge is one of the largest remaining bottomland hardwood forests in the Mississippi River Valley.
Small Wetlands Program Exhibit
Visitors to the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, now have an opportunity to learn how their federal Duck Stamp dollars have been fueling, and continue to fuel, restoration and preservation work across Americas heartland. NCTCs permanent exhibit, titled Small Wetlands, Big Mission, honors Fred Stauntons vision for the Small Wetlands Program. Staunton, then the manager at Waubay National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota, began documenting significant reductions in waterfowl populations in the 1940s. He and others believed the population losses were the direct result of massive wetland drainage programs across the PrairiePothole Region and that something needed to
be done to stem the tide. More information about the Small Wetlands Program, which was created by Congress in 1958 and uses Duck Stamp funds to protect waterfowl habitat, is available at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/smallWetlands.
Fishing is back at Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Twenty five years ago, the refuges namesake lake dried out because of reduced rainfall and the dropping of the Ogalalla Aquifer, so fishing came to an end. Last year, the refuge recognized an opportunity to use its moist soil units and decided to build a pond nearby to provide for a special Kids Fishing Derby. After completing construction of the manmade pond in October, the refuge partnered with Academy Sports + Outdoors and hosted its first Kid Fish event. The participating children caught anywhere from one to 20 fish provided by Oklahomas Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery. Dependent on water from the moist soil units, the pond will be filled during migration for special fishing events.
Mike Morrow, wildlife biologist at Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, was awarded the 2011 Hamerstrom Award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions in prairie grouse research and/or management that have enhanced the welfare of one or more prairie grouse species. Morrow has been instrumental in determining the cause(s) of poor Attwaters prairiechicken brood survival in the wild. Through the use of headstart brood boxes (an idea that he developed), he was able to show that insects (or lack of insects) was the main reason young chicks were not living long. His persistence and dedication further revealed that red imported fire ants most likely have had a negative impact on the insect population, thus indirectly affecting Attwaters prairiechicken brood survival.
Two roseate spoonbills on High Island off the Gulf Coast.
Credit: Michael Rosenbaum
This photograph of two roseate spoonbills on High Island off the Gulf Coast won the Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice International Award for the bird category. It was taken by Michael Rosenbaum, a longtime volunteer at Florida’s Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The photo is scheduled to be displayed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, from April to September 2012