Refuge Year 2013 in Review
Happenings of Note, Struggles, Accomplishments, and Visions of 2014
It was quite an eventful year here at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge:
- Columbian White-tailed Deer were translocated to Ridgefield NWR, and new fawns have been born since the move.
- We had a great visit from the National Chief of Wildlife Refuges, Jim Kurth.
- 2,288 students came to the Plankhouse for educational field trips!
- 700 students also participated in the Artist-in-Residence Program!
- 2,948 weekend visitors enjoyed the Plankhouse!
- Over 2,000 native plants went in the ground!
- 895 volunteers provided 13,841 volunteer hours to the Refuge!
- 150 Friends' Members, and growing!
- The Federal Government shut down for 16 days, closing the Refuge Complex to visitors and causing our BirdFest celebration to undergo major, last-minute reorganization.
- A new Natural History Event Series began with Columbia Credit Union sponsorship and an amazing set of speakers.
- We also started a new Volunteer Lunch & Learn Series on a wide variety of interesting topics.
- Due to funding shortages, the Habitat Coordinator and the Plankhouse Coordinator have had to reduce their hours. Hopes are high for 2014 increases in funding to support their vital work.
- Replacement of Ridgefield NWR pedestrian footbridge scheduled to start and be completed in 2014.
- For 2014, we all hope that federal budgets will be set in favor of our National Wildlife Refuges, and that vital grant opportunities will arise to help sustain the many important programs here on the Refuge.
- We look forward to your visits, and to sharing the wildlife and culture that make this Refuge so special!
You're Invited to Our Volunteer & Member Appreciation Dinner!
December 8, 2pm - 4pm, Ridgefield Community Center, 210 N Main Ave, Ridgefield
We hope you can come!
Additional Information: The meeting will include a summary of Refuge projects undertaken this year, as well as future projects. Current Members will elect new Friends’ Board Members. All who attend will have a chance to win one of our fabulous door prizes!
Not a current Friends’ member?
Become a member at our dinner & receive all the benefits of membership!…Also, be able to vote in this years’ elections! You can sign up here
ahead of time, if you’d prefer.
Economic Study Shows Refuges Boost Local Economies
Return on Investment is $5 for Every $1 Spent!
An important report on the financial benefits National Wildlife Refuges have on local communities came out this past month. Refuges need your help, though, to encourage Congressional support in the currently debated 2014 budget. 2010 was the highpoint of refuge funding. Since then, our refuge system has experienced $50 million in cuts, and more detrimental cuts may be on the horizon. Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge clocks in above the average on investment returned to the community...See the full report
consider contacting Congress to voice your support!
Our Refuge Manager Participates in Advanced Leadership Program
Chris Lapp Participating in 1-Month Educational Job Swap with Texas Colleague, Debra Bills
Ridgefield Refuge Complex Manager, Chris Lapp, was selected into the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Advanced Leadership Development Program. This program offers participants an opportunity to explore leadership in the Fish and Wildlife Service and to assess, learn about, and develop themselves as leaders. The program includes three phases focusing on self, group, and the organization. The primary learning environment is within the organization itself. Detail assignments, including a 30-day job swap and a 60-day developmental detail, will be used to explore leadership in the day-to-day environment of the Fish and Wildlife Service. For Chris’ 30-day job swap, he is serving as Field Supervisor in the Ecological Services’ office in Arlington, Texas. In Texas, Chris has been learning about endangered species management including black-capped vireo, golden-cheeked warbler, and other species through the Endangered Species Act consultation process. Debra Bills has been filling in as Refuge Manager here at the Ridgefield Refuge Complex, and will be here on her job swap through December 11th. Please stop by and introduce yourself to Debra!
Update & Events
Reviews of the Plankhouse's Successful 2013 Season, and Looking Ahead to 2014
Here Are Some Comments from Teachers Who Brought Students to the Plankhouse This Year:
“Students were able to use technology (GPS) to discover a beautiful environment set aside for only native species. Kids don’t often see the trees for the forest, but being able to examine so closely a 450 yr old oak tree that was there when Lewis and Clark were around the territory gave them a little sense of natural timing of the earth.”
“The nature walk allowed students to get a first-hand look at an ecosystem, which they have read about but not really seen. Some students returned to school the next day exclaiming how they had identified trees and other vegetation and animal life around their homes… I do know that some of the kids were going to try and get their parents to come back on the trails with them that weekend!”
“Thanks so much for the opportunity to do this. We have more and more “city” kids without the chance to feel what it is like to be surrounded by such a green space --- it is a precious resource as more land goes down to suburban living.”
“Discussion after the trip showed us student learning and heightened awareness of their environment and how to support it.”
“WHAT A FABULOUS field trip!!!! The students and I LOVED every minute of it! Thank you for all the time and effort you and your staff put into making this such a successful trip. I received an email from a parent telling me her daughter was so excited about the trip so came home and was running out of breath as she told her mom about everything she saw and did. That speaks volumes!”
Umpqua Bank Awards the Plankhouse $1000 for Artist-in-Residence (AIR) Programming!
Umpqua Bank awarded the Plankhouse Artist-In-Residence program $1,000 for the Spring 2014 education season. These funds will be combined with funds from the National Environmental Education Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife service to provide handson Chinookan art and culture lessons at the Plankhouse for hundreds of local school children. Even though some funding for the program has been secured, we still need your help
to make the 2014 AIR program the best it can be. The more funding we raise, the more students we can serve, and we hope to extend the AIR program into the weekends for public visitors, as well. Chinookan artisans from around our region teach a variety of arts and lifeways, from weaving and basketry, to fishing techniques, Chinookan art styles, painting, and more. We are very thankful to our current sponsors, but with your help, we can make this program even better!
See our Donation Page
if you'd like to donate now, and note 'AIR Program' if you'd like to specify where your dollars go! GivingTuesday
is tomorrow, and our campaign this year is to raise funds for the education programs! Join in on the giving today, tomorrow, or any day!
Over the next few months, visitors to the Carty Unit may notice the sights and sounds of our ongoing Plankhouse roof maintenance project. Though the task of scrambling up on the roof and closing the smoke vents would have been a job for the youth in the Plankhouses of old, we are taking a more mechanical approach to our roof vents. After this winter, all the roof vents will be mechanically opened and closed, making it easier for staff and volunteers to open and close the house each day, and make the house more weather resistant and rain proof. We look forward to the completion of this project sometime in early 2014.
Check out the "Journeys in Creativity" Art exhibit at the Water Resource Education Center
4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver, WA
Founded in 2004, by Pat Courtney Gold (Warm Springs) and the late 'Apolonia' Susana Santos (Warm Springs), the A. Susana Santos' "Journey in Creativity" program in collaboration with Kan-Nee-ta High Desert Resort, Museum at Warm Springs, and the Oregon Collage of Art and Craft, seeks to connect Native youth to the traditional art styles of their unique tribal art forms. The students spend two weeks researching their own tribal art traditions, and are encouraged to work in a traditional or contemporary medium in the style of their tribe. The results of this two week collaborative camp are now on display.
Update & Events
Tree Planting & Maintenance
Wednesday: December 4
Saturday: December 7
Monday: January 20 (MLK Day)
Our upcoming tree planting restoration days are Dec. 4
, 7, and Jan 20
(MLK Day). December events will Meet at the Carty Unit to plant willow and ash along Gee Creek and build wire cages to protect trees from beaver. The Monday, January 20 MLK Day event will meet at the River S Unit entrance to plant trees on the Roth Unit. See our fall season schedule of volunteer days through January, and please share the schedule with others who might be interested. A Winter/Spring schedule will come out in December for Feb, March, and April work days, with locations and work to be determined by grant funding awards. Join us and enjoy the cranes, geese, eagles, hawks, swans, and other wildlife who keep us company while we work!
All workdays are from 9am-12:30pm rain or shine. Wear waterproof footwear, bring gloves, and dress for the weather. Light refreshments will be provided. Registration is encouraged but not required. Contact staff: 360-887-3883 or email@example.com.
|Ridgefield Refuge Complex
News & Events
As a small staff serving the many communities that surround a complex of four refuges (Ridgefield, Steigerwald Lake, Franz Lake, and Pierce National Wildlife Refuges), we are always thankful for our Friends and Stewards and all of those hard-working, dedicated people who support us. We see on a daily basis the impact that volunteers have on restoration, education, and recreation on public lands here and throughout the country. We take great pride in being a vast and unique set of lands and waters that not only protect wildlife and habitat, but also provide a place for people to enjoy and learn about our amazing natural and cultural resources. If you are not familiar with the Refuge System Mission Statement and Guiding Principles I encourage you to take a look. They really give you an idea of what it means be a refuge system employee or volunteer, working together with all of the other amazing US Fish and Wildlife programs around the country. So, as you get together with your family over the holidays and say thank you for all the those things that you cherish, know that we are thankful for you and how you make all of this possible.
Remember to Stay in Your Car along the Auto Tour Route for Better Birding!
During this season, you will see many bird species busy on the Refuge. Come for the Auto Tour and your car functions as your bird blind, ensuring that birds will stand or fly near you for excellent viewing and photographing opportunities. Birds become accustomed to our slow-moving cars, and will not as quickly fly away. Remember to stay in your car each October 1 - April 30, when this bird activity is at its peak!
Government Shutdown: October's Realities and Our Hopes to Avoid Another
Due to a Congressional stalemate on the budget, the U.S. Government was shut down for a period of 17 days, from October 1 through October 16. During that time, without most of the Ridgefield Complex staff, the Project Leader and Steigerwald Refuge Manager staffed the offices alone. A variety of office projects were done that would not have been completed otherwise, but the lack of communication from other Fish and Wildlife Service employees made for some long days. Like all other Federal facilities, the Refuge was closed to the public during this time, and the Refuge Manager checked the refuge for trespassers, explaining the reasons for the closure and guiding them off the refuge. With the January deadline for a new budget, Refuge staff sincerely hope we will not have a repeat of the shutdown.
Steigerwald Lake NWR
Did you know that in addition to Ridgefield NWR, Steigerwald Lake NWR is part of our four refuge complex managed together? Steigerwald Lake NWR, located just outside of Washougal, WA, is another great place to walk and enjoy the native wildlife of Southwest Washington. And, what better way to get to know a refuge than to join up with its volunteers. Here is what we have on tap for this winter:
- Volunteer Dates: Working with staff from the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership and Refuge volunteers, help create important habitat on the following dates – January 25, February 22, March 8, and March 15. 1655 plants have already been put in this season. Pre-registration is required. Contact Samantha Johnson at (503) 226-1565 Ext. 245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Steigerwald Lake NWR Volunteer of the Year: Gary Fuquay!
Gary, a volunteer since 2008, is one of our regular Monday volunteers, putting in 250 hours between March & November. He has been instrumental in helping out with a variety of tasks: reducing non-native reed canarygrass to support our new plantings, creating new planting supports, and maintaining the Wildlife Art Trail. Gary was always eager to help out with whatever project was asked of him. We hope to have him around for many years to come.
Thank you for visiting the refuge and supporting conservation! If you have any questions regarding activities and regulations on the refuge, call the office Monday through Friday 7:30 to 3:30 at
|GivingTuesday is Tomorrow, Dec. 2nd!
|December Membership Special
Become a Lifetime Member and Receive Beautiful, Framed Artwork
For a one-time donation of $1000, you can become a Lifetime Member of the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This month, we would like to offer a special piece of artwork to you for generously supporting the many projects on this amazing refuge with a Lifetime Membership. For all the details and benefits of membership, review our membership webpage. Due to the size of artwork, we will need to arrange for pick-up.
|City of Ridgefield Hometown Celebration
Saturday, December 7...
Events throughout the entire day!
Come celebrate the beginning of the holiday season in historic downtown Ridgefield. Highlights include: Ugly Christmas Sweater Run, Live Music, Cookie Decorating, Old-fashioned Holiday Trailer Rides, Craft Bazaar, and Tree Lighting!
|Mark Your Calendars for our Tentative...
January Natural History Series Event:
Historical European Uses of the Columbia River, Presented by Cameron Smith
Thursday, January 16, 7:15pm,
Old Liberty Theater, Ridgefield
Check our calendar
for confirmation of this event as the date approaches.
Photo by: Jim Cruce
During the winter months, Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) come to the Refuge in family units within larger flocks, and are a common site. You may also see pairs or small family units of Trumpeter Swans (C. buccinator) here & there.
Tundra Swans winter in environs like our Refuge where they can find shallow estuaries, lakes, rivers, and nearby agricultural fields for supplemental feeding.
They generally eat aquatic plants, seeds, tubers, grains, and various mollusks and arthropods.
These swans are very difficult to tell apart, especially from a distance...See the guide below for help!
|Friends Board Seeking New Members
Board Member Openings
Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
The Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is looking to expand its Board Membership. The Board is seeking individuals with a deep passion for the environment and wildlife, appreciation of the area's rich cultural heritage, maintenance and restoration of habitat, and environmental and cultural education. We are looking for individuals with interests and skills in dealing with the intersection of organizations, the government, and business; advocacy; and fund raising. Board Members are expected to attend monthly meetings, lead and participate in designated committees, Bird Fest and Fund Raising events, and other community activities and events.
Welcome to Our Newest Members!
Members are the strength of the Friends in supporting the amazing Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and all of the cutural and natural legacies it holds. We honor and celebrate all our Members, and welcome new Friends. See you on the Refuge!
Images of Our Beautiful Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Clark Public Utilities
Environmental Paper & Print
Meyer Memorial Trust
Pacific NW Best Fish Co.
Ray Hickey Foundation
"Our mission is to support, protect, and enhance Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and its wildlife habitat; and to broaden public awareness and participation in its environmental, cultural, and educational opportunities."
Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 1022, Ridgefield, WA 98642
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