activities or programs related to the Big 6 uses: hunting, fishing, environmental education, wildlife observation, interpretation, and photography

Friends Photo Contest Winner for March

There is a winner! Bob Glennon is the winner of the March Photo Contest whose theme was the “Refuge System’s Birthday. Friends were encouraged to show what makes their refuge unique.

Bob shared with us captivating photos of the early bloomers at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina. These early bloomers will produce the berries the black bears that reside on the refuge. Bob, also captured a great photo of the black bear.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is a 160,000-acre refuge on the mainland of Dare County in northeastern North Carolina. It was established in 1984 under the authority of the Emergency Wetland Conservation Act. The refuge is underlain by hydric (wetland) soils, most of which are deep organic (muck and peat) soils. The refuge was established to protect those wetlands and the pocosin plant community that exists there. The refuge is home to the Fish and Wildlife Service’s trust species migratory birds (waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, and songbirds) and endangered species (red wolves). Black bears are a resident species and are a notable attraction to refuge visitors for wildlife observation and photography. The peninsula on which the refuge is located has the largest population density of black bears in North Carolina. The pocosin habitat has a dense understory of shrubs that produce an abundance of berries. Male bears (boars) can be seen year-round. Female bears (sows) bring their cubs out into open fields in May and they can be seen throughout the summer and fall.

The Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society manages 4 refuge stores at different refuges and coordinates 200 volunteers who donate an average of 25,000 hours of service every year on the area’s 9 refuges. The Society employs a full time store manager and volunteer coordinator. Volunteers staff the visitor centers and refuge stores; maintain buildings, grounds, and equipment; lead tours, and conduct programs.

Continue ReadingFriends Photo Contest Winner for March

Friends Photo Contest Winner for February

Our Photo Contest for February brought in so many spectacular photos. One small change-only in the event of a tie, will the two photos go to NWRA’s Facebook page to determine the winner. We are still working out all the “kinks” for this and appreciate your patience.      

For February the winning photo taken by Dale Bales, is of a bison and a fiery red sunset at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Prairie City, Iowa. Linda Frazier has other photos of the Refuge.    

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Prairie City, Iowa was established in 1990 with the purpose to protect, restore and reconstruct and manage native ecosystems of tallgrass prairie, oak savanna and sedge meadow. Prior to European-American settlement, tallgrass prairie covered 85% of Iowa. Today, less than 0.1% of Iowa’s prairie remains in small isolated fragments. In an effort to bring back native prairie plant communities, refuge staff and volunteers gathered and used local seed sources to replant or reconstruct 4,000 acres of tallgrass prairie.

Today, the refuge protects over 6,000 acres of wildlife habitat and provides visitors, students, researchers and local landowners with educational, recreational and volunteer opportunities to learn about and enjoy their native tallgrass prairie heritage.

The Friends of Neal Smith NWR exists to assist the Refuge and the staff in a variety of ways. Helping with publicity, including through funding of a billboard is ongoing. Concerts, Bison Days, trail walks, guest speakers, gatherings of Friends group members, volunteer work days, art exhibits, photography contest and exhibits, scholarships, funding of transportation for school field trips, funding for internships, greeting visitors and operating the Nature Store are just some of the ways in which the Friends of NSNWR are involved with this special Refuge. 

Continue ReadingFriends Photo Contest Winner for February

Spotlight on Fort Niobrara NWR

Last month, Mark Lindvall shared this amazing video when he was at Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge during their bison roundup. Thank you, Mark!

Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge is located in north central Nebraska and encompasses also 20,000 acres. The Refuge was once a frontier military fort and was established in 1912 as a “preserve and breeding ground for native birds”. Later, the Refuge’s purpose was expanded to include the conservation of bison and elk herds, like those that once roamed the Great Plains.

At Fort Niobrara NWR you will see a unique blend of topography, soils, and rock formations. The Niobrara River flows across the Refuge for 9 miles, cutting deep canyons into the limestone rocks along the river.

You can drive the 3 ½ mile auto tour route near the Visitor Center to see bison, prairie dogs, elk, many different birds and historical points of interest. There is a scenic overlook just off the highway that runs by the Refuge. Also, a nature trail descends stairs down to the base of Fort Falls and continues to the Niobrara River.

Definitely put Fort Niobrara on your list of Refuges to visit!

Continue ReadingSpotlight on Fort Niobrara NWR

Friends Share the Marvels of your Refuge or Hatchery!

Friends members post photos of your Refuge/Hatchery (or of a Refuge/Hatchery you have visited) as often as you would like on the Coalition if Refuge Friends and Advocates (CORFA) Facebook group. When you post photos, your Refuge/Hatchery could be chosen for the monthly “spotlight”. If chosen, your Refuge/Hatchery will have a special profile on the CORFA Facebook page, website.

This program will be a great way to celebrate the wonder and beauty of the Refuge System and explore our similarities and differences. Every Refuge/Hatchery is unique – let’s share this with each other and grow awareness of these extraordinary places.

When you post a photo, please include a short description, the name of the Refuge/Hatchery, the state it is located in and your name. This opportunity if for members of Friends organizations that support refuges and hatcheries managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By posting your photo, you agree that CORFA and potentially other partners can use the photo in their social media.So, get out your camera and share what you love about your Refuge/Hatchery!

Photo of one of the older bull bison at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Prairie City, Iowa. This bison was born in 2003. Each year the new calves have a microchip implanted, blood drawn and a hair sample taken so the Refugee staff can track their age, DNA and other vital statistics.
Photo credit: Joan Van Gorp/Friends of Neal Smith NWR, IA

Continue ReadingFriends Share the Marvels of your Refuge or Hatchery!

Friends Mentoring: A Program To Boost Your Partnership’s Success

The Fall 2021 application for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Friends Mentor Program is now available! This program boosts the success of the partnership between Friends and USFWS staff by providing peer-to-peer coaching.

To learn more about the program check out the materials from the Webinar held on Wednesday, September 15. The webinar addressed:

  • What is mentoring all about?
  • How does the program work?
  • What kinds of challenges can be addressed by the Mentor Program and what things cannot?

Below are the recording and other materials from and mentioned during the webinar.

We thank Linda Schnee, National Friends Coordinator, and Cheryl Hart, Refuge Friends Mentor for presenting this webinar.

Applications are due October 31, 2021. For additional information on this program go to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Friends page.

Continue ReadingFriends Mentoring: A Program To Boost Your Partnership’s Success