I just returned from the largest-ever national conference of nonprofit Refuge Friends organizations. Surrounded by more than 300 people who represented about 160 nonprofit Refuge Friends organizations that support national wildlife refuges, I came back home with a singular message: support for national wildlife refuges may be the most important thing we can do to ensure the conservation of wildlife for future generations. Our national wildlife refuge system is considered, “one of America’s best kept secrets.”
From its start in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has owed its very existence to concerned citizens eager to protect America’s wildlife habitat and wildlife. The country’s first refuge manager, Paul Kroegel, began as a citizen activist saving pelicans. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt named Kroegel manager of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s first. Today, the United States has 548 national wildlife refuges, with at least one in every state. And what we do for the Las Vegas and Maxwell National Wildlife Refuges along with the others across the nation, can well determine the health of our lands and waters.
One of the main functions of our local Friends group is to create awareness and visitation to the refuge thus stimulating a greater understanding of the refuge’s purpose and wildlife. Helping children connect with nature through our engaging programs, one being “Through the Eyes of a Bird,” is a major focus of Friends. Friends strive to help children, our next generation, to continue a healthy sense of the priceless value of nature and our wild places.
In the winter months, our Friends group sponsors a monthly presentation on a variety of subjects to our greater community. Our next presentation is at 1 p.m. this Sunday, March 8.: “Climate Change on the Arctic Edge” by Will Mahoney and Glenn Yocum, volunteers for Earth Watch.
We invite Las Vegas residents to the refuge on April 18 at 9 a.m. to help with a trash clean-up around the refuge loop road.
The “Friends” also support the November Sundays Wildlife drive through the refuge back roads to see, watch and photograph migratory birds like Sandhill Cranes, Canada and Snow Geese.
Our organization, Friends of the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge has been in existence since 2004 and has grown to nearly 120 members. We need more families and individuals to join in our efforts.
President Barack Obama, in his inaugural address, called on us to participate in a “new era of responsibility” for our country. What better way to meet that responsibility than work on behalf of the Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge with our families and friends right here in your own community? You can learn more about us by calling the refuge at 425-3581 or me at 429-0072. Join us, young and old at the refuge. Come be a “Friend.”
Friends of the Las Vegas
National Wildlife Refuge