National Wildlife Refuge System

A Year in the Life of Our Refuge


The Friends of Anahuac Refuge, TX, published a 50th anniversary book in part to answer visitors who ask, “What time do they feed the animals?” 


“People do not understand the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System,” says Friends member Cindi Barrett, who spearheaded production of the nearly 300 page book.  At least 50 volunteers were involved in the creation of A Year in the Life of Our Refuge: Selected Treasures from Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge’s 50th Year, which includes a year’s worth of events, people, habitat and wildlife on the refuge.  It also notes that while visitors can enjoy a variety of recreation on national wildlife refuges, they “have a more focused mission geared more towards the conservation of the wildlife values of refuge lands.”


Anahuac Refuge was established in 1963 to protect waterfowl and migratory songbird habitat along the upper Texas coast.  Fifty years later, a six-member team (Barrett plus nature store manager Kay Lovelace, publisher John Kemp, Friends president Matt Jackson, park ranger Tamara Schutter and project leader Tim Cooper) collaborated closely to develop and publish a book about the anniversary year.  The book’s introduction adds, “If visitors ask why certain things are done on the refuge, we can use the book as a tool to educate them.”


Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Barrett sought out experts for every aspect of the project. “Don’t be afraid to ask people for help,” she advises other Friends.  A board member, a nature columnist for the Houston Chronicle newspaper,  only to learn that he and his wife Kathy – a professional photographer – had their first date at Anahuac Refuge. Clark agreed to edit the manuscript and his wife offered advice on photo selection. 


Three professional photographers who taught workshops at Feather Fest in Galveston initiated the photo selection, choosing 2,800 photos from the 6,000 submitted by 36 volunteer photographers.  The graphic designer identified 500 that matched the text written by 12 additional volunteers. An environmental services company doing seismic surveys on the refuge volunteered its botanist to identify plants. Other scientists identified wildlife species and verified facts.


The only expenses were the graphic designer’s fee and the printing, covered by $15,000 from the Friends matched by another $15,000 from the Chambers County Board of Commissioners plus $3,000 in donations. Two-thousand copies were printed and are being sold at $20 each, making it affordable to the community.  


If all copies are sold, the Friends will earn a small profit to fund additional activities supporting the refuge.  As Friends president Matt Jackson wrote at the end of the book, “It is up to us as parents, teachers, environmental educators, volunteers, refuge staff and Friends members to open the natural world at national wildlife refuges to the next generation.”


More on the book as well as sample pages may be viewed here.

"All I know is that when Kathy and I stood on the western edge of Shoveler Pond listening to the dawn’s bird chorus; watching a great blue heron flap its mighty wings to fly in front of the rising disc of the sun; smelling the dew-scent from grasses and reeds…being alert to alligators rising above the water to let the heat of the sun activate their bodies…we could not help but sense the ethereal essence of life."
Gary Clark, editor A Year in the Life of Our Refuge
Credit: Steve Hillebrand

Last updated: June 13, 2014