International delegates tour Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge
Twenty-six delegates from around the world participated in a guided tour of Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge on Friday, September 2, as part of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership program. The delegates were interested in the restoration projects at Bayou Sauvage and learning about how community partnerships assist with the refuge’s projects.
The delegation included legislators, national park directors, biologists, conservationists, business people, and liaisons who are a part of a multi-regional project focusing on parks and protected area management. The countries represented were the Bahamas, Canada, Costa Rica, Hungary, Libya, Malaysia, Montenegro, Nigeria, People’s Republic of China, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Slovakia, Slovenia, Suriname, Thailand, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.
Many of these countries are popular tourism destinations, like Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, one of the largest urban national wildlife refuges in the United States National Wildlife Refuge System.
Refuge staff members invited Common Ground Relief (CGR), a refuge partner, to participate in the presentation on how we collaborate with community partners to increase the refuge’s effectiveness in conservation and restoration projects. Delegates also inquired about tourism, historic preservation, education, technology, and community development.
Refuge manager Shelley Stiaes, supervisory refuge ranger Becky Larkins, CGR executive director Thomas Pepper, and CGR wetlands program manager James Stram welcomed the delegation at the Ridge Trail Unit of Bayou Sauvage. Stiaes introduced the refuge’s work and discussed the scope of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which includes assisting with international wildlife conservation. The presentation included a guided hike of the Ridge Trail, highlighting several restoration sites on the refuge.
“Bayou Sauvage is an ideal location to see how restoration projects support both wildlife and the local community,” Stiase said. “The conservation measures established at Bayou Sauvage are great eye-openers for the delegation. We were honored to host such a distinguished and enthusiastic group of VIPs, and we were able to learn a lot from each other. I look forward to future collaboration that enhances conservation work and our visitor’s wildlife experiences.”