WE USE THE MONIES FROM MEMBERSHIP, FUNDRAISING EVENTS AND DONATIONS TO PARTNER WITH THE REFUGE AND SUPPORT A VARIETY OF PROJECTS IN SUPPORT OF THEIR MISSION. HERE’S JUST A FEW EXAMPLES:
PROTECTING THE WILDLIFE AND LAND
Through the joint conservation and stewardship initiatives with the Refuge, we support their efforts to protect land either through direction acquisition or through the conservation easement programs.
Since 2017, we have helped protect over 600 acres and are currently working with the Refuge staff to protect an additional 280 acres.
We maintain a land fund reserve to help expedite the transactions covering environmental studies, appraisals, and surveys.
We provide funds for the management of invasive species such as the feral hog. We recently purchased materials needed to build new traps the staff and our volunteers will use in this on-going effort to manage the hog population. The hogs are prolific breeders, do much damage to the land, and spread diseases to other wildlife.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION FOR ALL AGES
In addition to supporting the environmental education programs with our volunteers, we also provide funding to low-income schools to be able to bus their children to the Refuge so they can participate in the Balcones Outdoor Programs.
We develop and fund the Exploring Nature activity backpacks for self-directed exploration of the Refuge trails and habitat. During the pandemic, the visitation rate increased by almost 70% and yet staff and volunteers were restricted from almost all activities on the Refuge. Self-directed programs like this were essential and much valued by visitors.
We sponsor a variety of programs throughout the year to build awareness and appreciation of the Canyonlands wildlife and habitat. These have included topics such as birds of prey, native plants, reptiles, managing habitat, and even a training program for hike leaders.
In 2019, we completed a pavilion at Doeskin Ranch. The pavilion can easily seat over 100 people. We can now host programs in the shade!
Working with the Refuge staff, we are developing our first mobile ranger station. We provided the funding for the concession trailer, and the Refuge will fund the build out using an FWS grant. The mobile station will be used as a visitor center at the public trailheads, at nature-oriented events, such as Earth Day, and with schools as we take our environmental education programs on the road.
With drought a constant worry, we are funding a water capture system using the roof of the observation deck at the Shin Oak site to capture rain water and create a bubbler system for wildlife. The black-capped vireo is a key target species for this project given the habitat at Shin Oak. Thanks to the success of the habitat restoration projects, the vireo is no longer considered endangered but we need to maintain focus such that it doesn’t fall back onto the list.
The Friends of Balcones Canyonlands NWR is a 501(c)(3) organization whose primary purpose is to support the mission of the Refuge in restoring and protecting the habitat. The Friends are committed to building a diverse, vibrant community that appreciates, supports, and connects with nature in a meaningful way.
Become a Member
Join the Friends in protecting the wildlife and habitat, and supporting the mission of the Refuge. Start by taking a hike or attending an event, by watching the seasons change through what’s blooming, or by just watching a hawk soar, or even just sitting still and listening to the songbirds sing. You can have a positive impact. Come find your refuge at the Refuge and join the fun!