Though the Balcones Refuge was created to protect the nesting habitat of two endangered birds, the Golden-cheeked warbler and the Black-capped vireo, it has become so much more.
In 2017 over 3200 students participated in nature-based Environmental Education events.
Recreation is important too. The trails at the Refuge have been called "the best in the Hill Country". The dove and deer hunting programs bring hunters out to enjoy a day in the Hill Country and keep wildlife populations in check. The Firearms Safety Program introduces new and experienced hunters to best practices.
Keeping the Hill Country wild is paramount. Balcones has been designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Working with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Balcones Refuge collected tens of thousands of milkweed seeds to help save the declining Monarch population. In 2017 Balcones, along with its partners, outfitted 100 Golden-cheeked warblers with geolocators in order to study their migration patterns. Currently the Refuge is partnering with others to insure the water quality of the Cow Creek watershed.
Year in Review
What were the Friends doing in 2018?
January- Our 3rd Annual 1st day Hike had to be canceled due to freezing temps.
January- Friends Workshop on Sunset Photography was held at the Flying X.
January- Our thanks to one of our supporters the Lago Vista Women's Club.
February- The Friends Workshop was a native plant tour at our partner, Candlelight Ranch.
February- It was a sellout crowd for the 14th Annual SparrowFest.
March- A Photo Stroll was this months Friends Workshop.
April- Visitor Services Manager Jennifer Brown & wonderful, dedicated volunteers saw over 2000 students learn about bugs 'n birds. The Friends pays for some buses.
Help us pay for the student buses at www.friendsofbalcones.org/Donation-Form
April- The Friends Workshop attendees learned a lot on the Spring Herp Hike.
April- Refuge staff collected the "backpack" data collectors from birds returning to their nesting homes which will allow us to find their wintering grounds.
April- The 18th Annual Balcones Songbird Festival was once again lead by Sharon Macut and many, many volunteers.
July- Our Friends Workshop attendees kept cool with a tour of Longhorn Caverns.
October- Only the second Friends Workshop, the Autumn Grass Hike, ever to have to be canceled due to weather...wet!
September- We broke ground on putting a roof over the amphitheater so our 2000+ visiting students have some shade.
Help us complete the project at www.friendsofbalcones.org/Donation-Form
October- In spite of threatening weather, the 2nd Annual Refuge Round Up (part of National Wildlife Refuge Week) was a huge success.
November- The Annual Friends Meeting was moved due to flooding but all had a good time. The new Executive Board was elected; Wayne Collins-President, Dave Bell-Vice President, Fred Zagst-Secretary and Pat Wilkinson-Treasurer.
November- This Friends Workshop saw attendees hiking our newest tract (on the Peaceful Springs Hike) which is not open to the public.
November- The 3rd Annual #OptOutside Friends Workshop was led by Lynette Holtz, native plant expert.
December- The Holiday Meet & Greet was a chance for members to get together with good food and good Friends.
Please join us in 2019 in helping support the Refuge and having a lot of fun in the process.
Happy New Year,
Donations from Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge are needed to raise $25,000 to cover the cost of hosting visitors and providing an “outdoor classroom” for children in the coming year.