FRIENDS OF ANAHUAC REFUGE
Photo credit FWS
“Be on the refuge at sunrise and you can hear the cackle and calling of thousands of geese and waterfowl with no horns or vehicles at all,” says Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge manager Jimmy Laurent.
Huge flocks of snow geese, 27 species of ducks, songbirds and alligators all make their way to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, along Galveston Bay on the Texas Gulf coast. Established in 1963, the refuge protects coastal marsh for migrating, wintering and breeding waterfowl, shorebirds and waterbirds. Anahuac Refuge also provides crucial nesting areas for neotropical songbirds migrating across the Gulf of Mexico.
Laurent says habitat and bird counts are just about recovered since the devastation caused by Hurricane Ike in 2008 and the subsequent drought. The marsh was cleaned of contaminants and debris left by the hurricane and then flushed with fresh water. There is a new underground irrigation system and stronger aluminum water control structures. Maintenance facilities and a new visitor center have been built on higher ground. The Anahuac Refuge Visitor Center even boasts a complete working air boat.
Located between the Mississippi River and the Central Flyway, the refuge is a fall out area for these migrating birds. Anahuac Refuge is the first land stop coming north and the last heading south, so exhausted birds literally “fall out of the sky” seeking food and rest. Anahuac Refuge hosts about 70,000 visitors each year – many of them spring birders and photographers.
A 50th Anniversary Celebration is planned on February 27, with a morning bird tour and presentation at the visitor center. For details, contact Tamara_Schutter@fws.gov (409-267- 3337) Throughout the year the Friends of Anahuac Refuge will be gathering material for a 50th Anniversary book of the refuge, covering wildlife, management tools, volunteers and habitat. The book is to be published in spring 2014. On November 16, a Wildlife Expo will conclude the anniversary year celebrations.
There are several trails on the refuge, as well as a two-and-a-half mile auto tour around Shoveler Pond. Between October and March, visitors are likely to see multiple species of ducks, including green-winged teal, gadwall, shoveler and northern pintail. Snow geese feed in rice fields. Throughout the year, there are roseate spoonbills, great and snowy egrets, white faced ibis and mottled ducks on the refuge. The mottled duck is an indicator species for coastal marsh and wetland health. The duck is a priority for refuge management because the population is small and has a limited range.
For more stories like this, http://www.fws.gov/refuges/
By Jim Kurth
Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System
Twitter employees can use their laptops on the new 20,000-square-foot ninth-story deck and succulent plant garden at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. Cool perk, you think, but Twitter’s one of those edgy, new media employers. On the other hand, New Jersey’s BASF chemical company is an old-line corporation. Its employees now can hold meetings and conference calls on plant-filled patios and quads. Executives at the venerable public relations firm Ogilvy & Mather in New York can break from their office cubicles to take in Hudson River views on the company deck.
In years past, employees with some of the most progressive corporations boasted about foosball tables and free snacks. Now, they are bragging about outdoor workspace.
Research shows people feel less stress and may even perform better with some fresh air. So companies are investing in open-air places for employees to meet, work or just clear their heads.
Some corporations insist on outdoor space because employees do better when they have a variety of settings in which to work – including the great outdoors.
If some of America’s biggest employers have found that the outdoors is a boon to productivity and progress, it’s all the more reason for the National Wildlife Refuge System to expand its reach and improve environmental education offerings. We’ve already taken the first step with “Sowing Seeds of Wonder,” a draft strategic plan for improving environmental education, developed by the Conserving the Future Interpretation and Environmental Education implementation team.
Among the proposals: more chances for the public to participate in citizen science with such partners as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Project BudBurst; development of a national visitor services “communications hub” to share educational resources, including lesson plans; more mobile learning platforms; and stewardship activities for local schools.
Wildlife conservation is the Refuge System’s fundamental mission. But we won’t succeed if we don’t inspire the American people – especially our children – to connect with their wildlife heritage and become stewards of their natural resources. Wildlife refuges, integral to their local communities, are great places to broaden the nation’s conservation constituency.
After all, if the managers at Iowa law firm Foss, Kuiken & Cochran installed SkyCeiling – a faux skylight printed with images of a blue, sunny sky – to invigorate the office’s windowless reception area, imagine how thrilled they would be if their children could visit a real outdoor space – a national wildlife refuge – where the sky is naturally blue.
For more stories like this, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/newswire/
By Dan Ashe, Director
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Recognizing that every extinction threatens the web of life that supports us all, Congress in 1973 passed one of the world’s most important pieces of conservation legislation – the Endangered Species Act.
In the 40 years since, the ESA has provided a vital safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. The act’s protections have enabled us to work with our partners to recover dozens of species, including the bald eagle, grizzly bear and American alligator.
But the number of species that have recovered is by no means a complete measure of the ESA’s success. The act has also succeeded in preventing the extinction of hundreds of species, stabilizing populations and fostering voluntary conservation efforts for many others.
National wildlife refuges are an important part of the ESA's success. Fifty-eight refuges were specifically established to protect listed species; 248 refuges are home to more than 280 endangered or threatened species. To cite just two examples, Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Iowa is home to the Iow pleistocene snail; and Key Cave Refuge in northern Alabama provides habitat for gray bats, Indiana bats and cave crayfish.
As a child, I accompanied my father on trips to National Key Deer Refuge, “Ding” Darling Refuge, Blackbeard Island Refuge and others serving endangered and threatened species.
Without the National Wildlife Refuge System, many endangered species would not be making the recoveries they are. The dramatic comeback of the California condor could not have happened without Hopper Mountain Refuge Complex. Archie Carr Refuge continues to provide crucial habitat for nesting sea turtles.
But we can’t achieve our conservation mission by providing habitat for threatened and endangered species exclusively within our refuge boundaries. Hundreds of imperiled species depend on private lands for the majority of their habitat.
The vision calls on us to prioritize future land acquisition and protection efforts, tying them to rigorous biological planning and conservation objectives developed in cooperation with state fish and wildlife agencies and implemented through effective partnerships. In this way, we can provide the greatest conservation benefits in the right places, regardless of whether we own and manage those places.
Threatened and endangered species are a prime beneficiary of this vision.
For example, the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area ultimately will protect, restore and conserve more than 100,000 acres of habitat on public and private lands to benefit hundreds of rare species, including the Florida panther, Florida black bear, Florida scrub-jay, Everglades snail kite and Eastern indigo snake. These efforts will provide important linkages for migratory birds and several species of concern while enabling working families to stay on the land and continue their own land stewardship.
The Refuge System will play a key role as we seek to accelerate species recovery and foster innovative conservation approaches. That’s worth working for.
Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Iowa is home to the endangered Iowa Pleistocene snail. Fifty-eight refuges were established to protext endangered or threatened species. (USFWS)
For more stories like this, visit: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/friends/newswire/
National Wildlife Refuge Association
The National Wildlife Refuge Association today announced its strong support for President Obama’s nomination of Sally Jewell to become the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Jewell is currently the CEO of Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) and has played an instrumental role promoting outdoor recreation with the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative. Her appreciation of nature and wild things as well as her knowledge of the economic benefits of our natural world will bring a unique perspective in the President’s
"Outdoor recreation generates over $1 trillion for our nation's economy and more than 8 million jobs,” said David Houghton, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “Jewell will undoubtedly be an excellent leader for the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and will continue to bring attention to our nation’s great public lands.”
Jewell has earned national recognition for her management skills of the nearly $2 billion outdoor equipment company, REI, and intimately understands the value of healthy ecosystems including the opportunities they provide for people to recreate and connect with the great outdoors.
“Sally Jewell has been a leader in the outdoor recreation industry using innovative strategies to protect and restore wildlife habitat throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the country; as Secretary of the Interior, she will have an opportunity to articulate and implement a larger conservation vision for the nation.” said Houghton. “We wish her a speedy confirmation and look forward to working with her to further the goals and mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Wildlife Refuge System.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Jewell will lead the Department of the Interiorun-the department responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources. Additionally, the department is charged with the administration of programs relating to Native peoples.
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge Association is to conserve America’s wildlife
heritage for future generations through strategic programs that protect, enhance, and expand
the National Wildlife Refuge System and the landscapes beyond its boundaries that secure its
At Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, 16-year-old volunteer Jessica Flory wants to call your attention to a growing problem for wildlife. She’s wearing a dress she made from 87 balloons that refuge staff collected from a coastal island, where turtles mistake the mylar scraps for food and choke on them, and seabirds get strangled by balloon strings.
Balloons are just part of the mounting piles of manmade junk that now wash up on even the remotest world beaches, including those in the far Pacific and Alaska.
In photos and reports, wildlife biologists have documented harm to wildlife from the floating plastic, rubber and metal discards they call, collectively, “marine debris.”
Increasingly, staff at coastal wildlife refuges are spotlighting the problem and suggesting ways the public can help. Recent refuge actions include:
Both Eastern Shore of Virginia Refuge and nearby Chincoteague Refuge, 65 miles up the coast, display life-size sea turtle replicas, filled with sea debris, to show the harm done by ocean trash. The “trashtalkingturtles” were donated by the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team, which collects beached marine mammals and sea turtles, often full of balloons and plastic bags.
Says Lou Hinds, manager of Chincoteague Refuge, “There are many people who would never discard paper out a car window, yet have no problem releasing hundreds of balloons into the air. Unfortunately, Mother Earth pushes these things back to ground, and it’s a mess.”
Two recent natural disasters − Hurricane Sandy and the March 2011 tsunami in Japan – have increased public awareness of marine debris.
Last October, Superstorm Sandy blew boats, docks and trees onto shore in Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and New York. News accounts have cited refuges’ efforts to recover damaged wildlife habitat.
The 2011 tsunami sent an estimated 1.5 million tons of debris adrift toward Washington, Oregon and California. Sections of barnacle-covered docks have floated into Olympic National Park and Oregon waters, fueling worries that marine pests aboard could disrupt coastal ecosystems. Scientists scraped and blowtorched the docks, then trucked them away for breakup and disposal.
But drift litter is more than a storm phenomenon. A 2012 study submitted to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources by the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography found sea trash all along the Georgia coast. The study cited more than 170 pounds per month of plastic trash on the beaches of Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge.
There are small signs that awareness-raising efforts are having an impact.
“It feels satisfying to pick up as much trash as we did, but it’s also eye-opening and somewhat sad that this is what our world is becoming,” says Kodiak High School senior HiIris Blakeslee on a video she made about her Youth Conservation Corps team’s cleaning of Halibut Bay at Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
J.N. “Ding Darling” Refuge in Florida stopped the sale of single-use plastic bottles in September 2012. “It’s our way to take a stand on the marine debris issue,” said supervisory refuge ranger Toni Westland. Some visitors have congratulated the refuge on the move.
Jessica Flory, the balloon-dress girl, recalls a woman telling her that she’d never again send messages in balloons. “I never thought about the ones that don’t make it” to their destination, the woman told Flory.
Photos of marine debris on refuges: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/sets/72157631753678584/
Some Things You Can Do to Reduce Marine Debris
The Friends of Anahuac Refuge was established in 1997 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Anahuac, TX.
For questions, call the refuge office at 409-267-3337.
P.O. Box 1348
Anahuac, TX 77514
Refuge Office Address:
4017 FM 563, Anahuac, TX 77514