The Big Muddy comes home
August 8, 2017
New refuge headquarters and visitor contact station. Photo by Anna Weyers/USFWS.
After more than two decades, Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Missouri has a place to call home on the bluffs above the Missouri River floodplain. Staff and supporters from the local community celebrated the grand opening of the new refuge headquarters and visitor contact station on August 3, 2017 and enthusiasm ran high. This event marked the completion of the largest Maintenance Action Team project in the history of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service!
Regional Director Tom Melius was happy to be there in person to mark the occasion and joined with National Wildlife Refuge System leadership in praising the hard work and dedication of the agency Maintenance Action Team that designed and built the facility from the ground up.
“The enthusiasm and dedication that you and your team have is impressive and I know how proud you are to share this new space with the local community and with folks who visit you from across the country,” said Melius.
Maintenance Action Teams are, in essence, a SWAT team of professionals that are pulled together from across the country to solve a maintenance challenge or address a short-term need. In the case of the Big Muddy project, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service employees with specialized skills were strategically organized to plan and execute all aspects of the 6,500 square-foot facility.
Regional Director Melius thanked Commissioner Don Baragary and his fellow Cooper County commissioners for supporting this project and noted how clear it is that the refuge is important to the local community - both economically and in terms of the educational connections.
The refuge encompasses more than 18,000-acres of riverine habitat along the Missouri River and for more than 20 years, refuge staff were housed in a trailer more than 20 miles from the refuge. In their new location, staff will be able to interpret the ever-changing habitats along the Missouri River in context. Now visitors will be able to better connect the lush bottomland forest with the people who work to protect it.
Leadership with Cooper County Commissioner Don Baragary. Photo by Anna Weyers/USFWS.