In October of 2018, the FOW received a $17,000 grant from the Union Pacific Railway for trails and bridges. This was due to the efforts of Jim Calaway, grant writer. At the same time the refuge manager retired leaving an acting manager, and a new head of Visitor Services was added to the staff. Because of this change in management, no new projects were approved for several months.
In the spring of 2019, it was decided by refuge staff that the EE trail system would be rehabilitated. It was not until June of 2019 when Zack Cartmell, Facilities Operations Supervisor, was added to the refuge staff, that real planning for materials and work on this area was begun. Zack and Emilie Stahler, FOW members and trails committee chair, inspected the condition of the trails and determined what materials would be required to bring the area back to serviceable condition. Work on the area has been ongoing with delays due to wet and/or hot weather and depending on the number of volunteers. Helen Riley, FOW Volunteer Coordinator, has done an admirable job of recruiting volunteers. Emilie has documented the progress being made, and kept Mr. Calaway informed. Staff member Randy Hale extended his services as well by coordinating and directing volunteers.
An extension of the grant, which was due to expire in September, was obtained by Calaway in view of the many setbacks to the project. He is working with Emilie to enlist groups off school students to participate in the trail work.
Article and Photos by Emilie Stahler