Birder's Guide

MAY 2016

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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National Wildlife Refuges 32 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2016 events at the refuge. Most Friends groups operate accord- ing to a formal written agreement with the FWS, and all are membership-based. Many have a website or Facebook page. All are eager for new members, volunteers, and contributors, and there are oppor- tunities available for volunteers of many backgrounds and abilities. The National Wildlife Refuge Association provides sup- port services to Friends groups through training workshops, communications net- works, and partnerships. As one example, The Friends of Tualatin River NWR near Portland, Oregon, sup- ports an urban refuge. In 2013, it contrib- uted more than 17,000 hours of volunteer time, including 4,000 hours in the wildlife center, 3,000 hours in on-site environmen - tal education, 500 hours on maintenance, and 1,000 hours planning the Tualatin River Bird Festival. The Friends work closely with local government, the local chamber of commerce, and other organiza - tions regarding refuge issues. The board of directors typically includes representatives from several of these groups, including for- mer mayors, and the organization's number of hours contributed annually is now ap- proaching 30,000. The Friends of Tualatin River NWR also advocates for funding of land purchases and facility developments, including suc- cessfully working with local Congressional representatives to obtain funding for a new headquarters building and visitor center. The group has engaged in restoration ac- tivities, planted thousands of trees, and removed invasive plants. It even initiated litigation in federal court regarding the cleanup of an old unlined landfll near the refuge. Settlement of the litigation provid- ed cleanup funds for the landfll, benefting the refuge and its neighboring community. Perhaps most signifcantly, the Friends support a range of educational activities that are provided to thousands of students who visit the refuge each year. The Friends trained teachers, conducted Spring Break Exploration Days, hosted numerous feld trips, led themed walks, and organized a popular preschool environmental education program called "Puddle Stompers." For these and other accomplishments, The Friends of Tualatin River NWR was selected as the the National Wildlife Refuge Association's Friends Group of the Year in 2014. One hundred miles south of Portland, The Friends of the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex support three ref- uges in Oregon: William L. Finley NWR, Baskett Slough NWR, and Ankeny NWR. This Friends group started in 2005 with the encouragement of the refuge complex's then-Project-Leader Doug G. Spencer, who, now retired from FWS, currently serves as n Whooping Cranes would likely be extinct if not for the national wildlife refuge system—specifically, Texas's Aransas NWR. Photos © Klaus Nigge/USFWS

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