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  • Tuesday, September 16, 2014 4:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FIELD NOTES by Deborah Holle, Refuge Manager

    repost from the Canyonlands Crier September 2014

    The past summer at Balcones went by quickly.  It started with the retirement of Rob Iski, the Refuge’s Outdoor Recreation Planner.  Rob and his family moved to Balcones in 1999, over 14 years ago.  Rob made an indelible mark on Balcones by establishing its environmental education program.  For a number of reason, primarily workforce planning and sequestration, Rob’s position will not be filled immediately.  Thankfully Joan Mukherjee and Ida Castillo volunteered to organize the volunteers to continue the Going Buggy and Balcones Bridges to Birding programs for area schools that local children enjoy so much.


    Drought 2014 continues, but we did have more rain than last year or at least it seems we are a little greener, albeit August was really dry.  The Refuge dove fields on tract #120 produced many native sunflowers, dove weed and other species beneficial to wildlife and birds.  Eighty six hunters bagged an average of 5.4 birds over the 4 day hunt. The Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo nested in their traditional areas and fledged young successfully. Refuge volunteers helped refuge biologists with bird and deer surveys.  We hired Chad Ediger as our Maintenance Worker in June.  Chad is retired from the Air Force.  Cixto Saucedo transferred from the Southwest Arizona Refuge Complex in Yuma to Balcones as our Heavy Equipment Operator in July. Efforts to control invasive plants, especially China berry trees, Johnson grass, and spotted knapp weed were priorities for the 2 student interns from the Student Conservation Association.  We plan to burn the 2 front fields at HQ before fall and then plant them with some native wildflowers and grasses.  The 3rd Swift Fest went well with more Chimney Swifts “dropping” into the cistern in Jonestown.  Over 250 people stayed to witness the Swifts going to roost. 


    The success of the programs at Balcones couldn't occur without the Refuge Volunteers and Friends of Balcones help.  You may be aware the President Obama will create a Federal Strategy to promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators this year.  One of the other pollinators is the monarch butterfly.  Monarchs are in steep decline and Texas is the second highest priority for improving their habitat.  Don’t be surprised if many of our Volunteers and Friends are called upon to help with some monarch projects in the upcoming months.

  • Friday, March 21, 2014 3:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Re-post from Dan Ashe, Director, U.S.Fish & Wildlife Service

    Dan AsheHalf a century ago, I was 8 years old, but fortunately, some smart and passionate folks were thinking about my future. And yours. They decided that “wild life” is more than individual plants and animals. Places should be set aside and allowed to stay wild and undisturbed by man.

    Their work and passion culminated in the Wilderness Act of 1964. Signed by President Lyndon Johnson, the Wilderness Act created the National Wilderness Preservation System, and established a formal mechanism for designating future wilderness. President Johnson stated, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

    This year, we are celebrating the act’s 50th anniversary, and with less than 3 percent of the contiguous United States still considered wild, we have a lot of work to do. As human population grows, and humanity consumes more and more to meet its growing needs, wild will become increasingly rare.

    I’ve had the good fortune to visit many of our wildest places. One of them is not where you’d expect. Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham, MA, is a wilderness that exists amid a crush of humanity. Have you ever tried to cross the Bourne Bridge onto Cape Cod on a summer weekend? The refuge includes the Monomoy Wilderness. When Congress created the Monomoy Wilderness in 1970, Monomoy was not the kind of pristine wilderness many imagine when they read the Wilderness Act – places where “the imprint of man’s work [is] substantially unnoticeable.” People had left their mark (structures, foundations, roads and more) on the Monomoy Wilderness, some arestill evident today.

    But it is worth the effort to reach the pristine, which is what refuge manager Dave Brownlie and the National Wildlife Refuge System are doing. Essentially, they are re-wilding this dynamic coastal barrier system and its biodiversity of birds, marine wildlife and coastal habitats.

    As important as wilderness areas are to wildlife, they are also essential to us – to clear our heads, to experience what it means to be really outdoors, and to connect with the earth and our natural heritage.

    They preserve what Brownlie calls the “Monomoy magic,” the feeling he gets when he visits Monomoy’s southernmost tip. There, amid the wildlife, he says: “Yeah, I’m really in a wilderness now.” You can almost hear the tension fade from his voice as he says it, too.

    To ensure that wilderness is not lost to short-term gain or for the latest tourist trap, it’s up to us to convey the value of wilderness – not to the nation in the abstract, but concretely to each and every one of us.

    Only then, when everyone can, and does, fully appreciate wilderness, will we be confident that the wild lands and “wild life” we love will be there for our children and grandchildren. So, like those pioneers of wilderness protection, who acted for you and me 50 years ago, you and I now have our date with destiny. We are leading today’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and today’s conservation community. So let’s get out there and make our own version of the Monomoy magic.

  • Tuesday, January 29, 2013 1:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NWRAA new Web site -- – is a one-stop shop for information that Refuge Friends organizations so often seek:  directory of all Friends organizations; forum to pose questions or give advice; a range of resources from information on grants and fundraising to the status of the Refuge System Conserving the Future implementation; and news of what’s happening around the Refuge System.

    All Friends and those working with Friends to support the Refuge System are welcome to join.

    To become a member go to and click on “Apply for Membership”. You will receive your password within one business day, which will also allow you to update information about your Friends organizations and upload events on the calendar as well as provide more information from your group. 

    For questions and more information, contact Joan Patterson, National Wildlife Refuge Association, at 202.290.5594 or

  • Tuesday, January 29, 2013 12:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Re-post from Friends NewsWire

    Bike & Bird Cow Creek with Shelia & Laurie 2012

    Bike n Bird Cow Creek-S. HargisParticipation in wildlife-associated recreation increased in 28 states since 2006, according to the findings of the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation State Overview Report, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Sept. 12. 

    The National Survey, conducted since 1955, measures participation in these activities and related spending on trips and equipment across the nation and in individual states. The 2011 National Survey data show that hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers spent $145 billion last year on related gear, trips and other purchases such as licenses, tags and land leasing or ownership.

    “Hunting, fishing and wildlife watching are part of our national heritage, and the trip and equipment-related spending of participants’ forms significant support for local economies across the country,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “These survey results are good news for the small businesses and rural communities who depend on wildlife-related tourism, and it shows an encouraging increase in personal investment of citizens in the future of wildlife and wild places.”

    Public lands managed by federal and state agencies support much of the fishing, hunting, and wildlife-associated recreation that Americans enjoy. The State Overview, released today provides national survey data on wildlife-related recreation at the state level, which helps state natural resource agencies to plan and provide wildlife-related recreation opportunities.

    “The State by State data from the National Survey is where the rubber meets the road for state fish and wildlife agencies,” said Dr. Jonathan Gassett, Commissioner of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission and President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “These results help each state set the course for future fish and wildlife conservation and they help quantify the results of investments that each state has made in its wildlife-related recreation programs, especially hunter and angler recruitment and retention programs.”

    Highlights from this overview include the following information:

    ·       Of the 28 states with increases in the number of wildlife-related recreation participants from 2006 to 2011, the largest percentage increases were seen in Alaska (47 percent) and Louisiana (40 percent).

    ·       South Dakota had the highest proportion of state residents who hunted– 21 percent.

    ·       Alaska had the highest proportion of state residents who fished– 40 percent.

    ·       Vermont had the highest proportion of state residents who wildlife watched– 53 percent. 

    Overall, the 2011 Survey found that 38 percent of all Americans 16 years of age and older participated in wildlife-related recreation in 2011, an increase of 2.6 million participants from the previous survey in 2006. Participation in recreational fishing increased by 11 percent and hunting was up 9 percent.  This increase reverses a trend over previous Surveys showing a 10% decline in hunting participation between 1996 and 2006.  The 2011 Survey reports a corresponding increase in hunting equipment expenditures, which are up 29 percent from 2006. 

    Through landmark conservation laws supported by American sportsmen and women, funds collected by states through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses are combined with federal funds from excise tax on sport weapons and ammunition and on angling equipment to pay for fish and wildlife conservation and associated recreational opportunities. Together, these laws support the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Programs, first established 75 years ago.  Since then, hunters and anglers have paid more than $11 billion in excise taxes on purchases of firearms, ammunition, archery, fishing and boating equipment toward thousands of conservation projects, wildlife-associated recreational opportunities and access, and sport shooting ranges around the nation.

    The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, conducted every five years since 1955, has become one of the most important sources of information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States. Federal, State, and private organizations use the rigorously-compiled and detailed information to manage wildlife and wildlife-related recreation programs, market products, and forecast trends in participation and economic impacts.

    The 2011 report was requested by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey Branch of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, and administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The Census Bureau conducted detailed interviews from individuals at 48,627 households across the country to obtain samples of sportspersons and wildlife watchers. Information was collected through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews. 

  • Saturday, November 12, 2011 12:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Submitted by Shelia Hargis, FRIENDS Government Relations Director

    Our Hill Country is a treasure worth preserving, and at its heart is the 23,000-acre Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Tens of thousands of Texans depend upon the Refuge as a safe, affordable, and convenient place to enjoy the great outdoors. But this refuge and others like it are at risk of closing their doors unless our state’s congressional delegation stands up for public land conservation.

    As a volunteer with the Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, I’ve met many Central Texans who visit the Refuge for recreation and relaxation. They come to experience the Refuge’s remarkable views, hiking trails, and plentiful wildlife. Its prime location on a migratory bird flyway as well as breeding Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos make the Refuge a premiere destination for birders from around the nation. The endangered Golden-cheeked Warblers and Black-capped Vireos are among the Refuge’s 270 bird species that rely on the Refuge, and protection of their breeding habitat inspired the creation of the Refuge nearly twenty years ago. The unique geologic features of the Hill Country also make it ideal habitat for a broad range of unusual subterranean wildlife, and these critters have their own dedicated enthusiasts as well.

    Conserving the qualities that make this place so special is tremendously important for all of us who need a place to get outdoors. And, the ecotourism dollars that visiting nature lovers spend at the businesses in the area help support these businesses even in hard economic times.

    I recently traveled to Washington, bring that message to our congressional delegation and urge their support for a little-known program that has brought enormous benefits to Texas, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Since the fund was established in 1965, LWCF has protected more than seven million acres across the United Statesundefinedfrom neighborhood playgrounds and ball fields to the grandest national parks.

    What’s especially impressive is that all this has been accomplished without using taxpayer dollars. Instead, a small portion of the royalties paid by oil and gas companies to drill in public waters offshore are set aside each year to purchase conservation lands.

    LWCF has conserved many of our state’s jewels in the national park and refuge system, such as Balcones Canyonlands, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and Padre Island National Seashore. Although LWCF is essential to preserving these national treasures, cuts proposed by some in Washington would decimate the program. Zeroing out funding for land acquisition would threaten public access to recreation and strand landowners who want to convey natural areas for public use.

    During my trip to the nation’s capital, I also reminded our delegation that cutting LWCF means cutting local tourism revenue and jobs. Nationwide, outdoor recreation supports one in every 15 jobs, and brings in more than a trillion dollars in revenue to local economies. In our state, 2.9 million sportspersons and 4.2 million wildlife watchers combine to spend $9.2 billion on wildlife-associated recreation.

    As Congress looks for ways to reduce spending, LWCF might seem like an easy target. But as I told our delegation, now is not the time to cut a program that provides so many jobs and provides so much economic benefit to our communities.

    I hope that Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, and Representative Lamar Smith will defend LWCF. The places we protect today become tomorrow’s recreation jobs and tourist dollars, and they are part of the legacy of clean air and water that we’ll leave our children and grandchildren. That’s not something any of us should be willing to risk.

  • Friday, October 21, 2011 1:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The VisionThe renewed vision for the growth and management of the National Wildlife Refuge System, entitled Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation, is now available online at  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s vision was developed with extensive input from stakeholders through a transparent public process over the past 18 months.

    “For more than 100 years, the National Wildlife Refuge System has conserved America’s great wildlife heritage and working lands for current and future generations, and this blueprint will ensure that a new era of conservation – one rooted in strong partnerships with the community – remains vibrant for the next 100 years,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “I applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service for its commitment to increasing the public’s access to open spaces and to inspiring a new generation to enjoy America’s great outdoors and get involved in conserving our nation’s wild things and wild places.”

    Conserving the Future underscores the importance of building and expanding partnerships – working with other federal agencies, states, tribes, conservation organizations and citizens.

    “The conservation challenges of the 21st century demand that the Service renews its commitment to our important relationship with state fish and wildlife agencies and with traditional partners such as anglers and hunters,” said Dan Ashe, Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service. “At the same time, we need to be creative and bold in forging new partnerships.”

    Among the Conserving the Future’s recommendations, the Refuge System will:
    • launch an urban refuge initiative to increase the American people’s connection with their natural heritage, including wildlife refuges;
    • work with state fish and wildlife agencies to prepare a strategy for increasing quality hunting and fishing opportunities – especially for youth and people with disabilities – on wildlife refuges;
    • collaborate more with private and regional groups to conserve wildlife habitat;
    • undertake an inventory and monitoring of the Refuge System’s land and water resources to better protect against future threats;
    • develop a plan to guide refuges in assessing potential climate change impacts to refuge habitats and species; and  
    • plan for strategic growth by prioritizing potential acquisition sites and assessing the status of current habitat protection efforts.
    In describing the Refuge System’s role in addressing America’s conservation challenges, the vision document states: “Human demands on the environment combined with environmental stressors are creating an urgent need for conservation choices. The scale of issues and challenges we face is unprecedented and impacts us all; no single entity has the resources necessary to address these challenges on its own.

    “Conserving the Future acknowledges that strategic, collaborative, science-based landscape conservation -- along with effective public outreach, education and environmental awareness -- is the only path forward to conserve America's wildlife and wild places.
  • Wednesday, September 28, 2011 10:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Fall 2011 Crier

    I know, in the Spring we announced the end of a paper newsletter...due to raising costs and going green.yada,yada,yada...BUT the outcry from subscribers caused us to re-think the distribution and the benefits to reaching out to the public with multiple media tools. Yes, we LIKE facebook, twitter, emails,...but there is something to be said for those left behind AND we don't want to leave anyone behind! We actually expanded our distribution on the Canyonlands Crier!

    We hope that you enjoy this issue.

  • Friday, April 22, 2011 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
     With tCanyonlands Crier Spring 2011he high cost of production and our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, we will no longer be publishing a paper newsletter. All our news releases will be produced on this blog and distributed via eblasts. You can RSS the NEWS if you prefer. See the button on this page!

    WE have relied on many hard working volunteers in the effort to bring you the Canyonlands Crier and just want to express our sincere gratitude for all the time and talent that made gave us such a professional printed newsletter.

    Our layout editor, Tess Sherman
    Our news editor, Sharon Macut
    Our Printer, Minuteman Press of Cedar Park
    Out team of folks that licked stamps, managed lists and provided articles.

    You can read this by clicking the image.
  • Sunday, February 13, 2011 4:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
     The trail work day at Warbler Vista was a success. We had 24 volunteers that came out to help. The extension of the Cactus
    Rock trail is all but done. I will hang the signs and take care of a couple of trip points next week.
    Below are some pictures of the hard working volunteers.
     Thanks to all the volunteers.

    Dub Lyon

  • Wednesday, December 29, 2010 9:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    National Wildlife Refuge Association For Immediate Release      
    December 21, 2010     

      Contact: Joan Patterson, (202) 292-2422

    NWRA Applauds Congress for Supporting Wildlife Refuge Friends and Volunteers

    Washington, DC – The National Wildlife Refuge Association today applauded Congress for supporting volunteer programs on our national wildlife refuges. Passage of the National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act will increase opportunities for citizens to volunteer on our national wildlife refuges and bolster the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to develop a national strategy for coordinating volunteer efforts.
    “Refuge Friends and Volunteers are a cornerstone in helping the Fish and Wildlife Service achieve critical wildlife conservation and public outreach goals on our national wildlife refuges,” said Evan Hirsche, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “Never has this been more apparent than in the overwhelming outpouring of Friends and volunteer support in connection with the BP oil spill this past summer.”
    With 553 national wildlife refuges throughout all states and territories conserving a total of 150 million acres - the National Wildlife Refuge System is the world’s premier wildlife conservation system. America’s national wildlife refuges are invaluable to wildlife and offer outstanding opportunities for people to experience and appreciate our natural world - there’s a national wildlife refuge within just an hour’s drive of nearly every major metropolitan area.
    Each year Refuge Friends and volunteers perform roughly 20% of all the work done on national wildlife refuges. In 2009 they contributed more than 1.4 million hours or the equivalent of 665 full-time employees - a value exceeding $28 million! From helping with habitat conservation projects and environmental education programs to organizing recreational opportunities like hunts and fishing derbies, Refuge Friends and Volunteers are vital to our national wildlife refuges.
    Passed by both houses of Congress, the National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Improvement Act awaits final approval from President Obama before being enacted as law.

    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 ecological integrity.

    # # #

    Copyright © 2010 National Wildlife Refuge Association.
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