2020 Year In Review By Board President Emeritus Jim Stone
Photo by S. Hodge
As 2020 comes to a close, we need to take a moment to reflect on this past year. With the global pandemic, record-breaking weather events due to climate change, unprecedented wildfires and social unrest from injustices faced by people of color, this past year has led many to despair. While members of the Friends of the Wichitas (FOW) have had to endure those same challenges, their resiliency has kept them moving forward in their efforts to help conserve, protect and enhance the Wichita Mountains NWR. Here are a few of the FOW accomplishments during this chaotic and challenging year:
- Secured a grant from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
- Completed reconstruction of the historic Ferguson House.
- Funded an engraved historical marker to be place at the Ferguson House.
- Continued landscape maintenance of picnic areas – Visitor Center, Headquarters, etc.
- Purchased a new 60” Hustler riding mower.
- Purchased a Stihl chain saw and a Stihl weed eater for the Refuge.
- Conducted Nature Hikes and Interpretive Tours prior to the shutdown.
- Funded the Archaeological Field Inspection for construction of the new water line.
- Partnered with the Comanche Nation to develop a comprehensive recycling program.
- Purchased polo shirts and t-shirts for members to wear when volunteering.
- Eradicated thousands of invasive species.
- Removed graffiti on the Refuge in an environmentally sensitive manner.
- Partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to fund the annual Elk Survey.
- Provided volunteers for the cleanup and operation of Camp Doris.
- Repaired and painted the bath house at Camp Doris.
- Cleaned and repaired picnic grills and fire rings.
- Picked up tons of trash from the Refuge.
- Continued outreach on our updated social media platforms.
- Assisted with the controlled white-tailed deer and elk hunts.
- Assisted the Fire Crew with traffic control during prescribed burns on the Refuge.
- Operated the Nature Store until the closure of the Visitor Center.
- Received a stimulus Payroll Protection Program grant for Nature Store operations.
- Sponsored CPR and First Aid training for volunteers.
- Assisted with Search and Rescues on the Refuge.
- Manned the Front Desk at the Visitor Center.
- Awarded grants to schools for K-12 environmental education field
- Assisted the Biologists in preparation for the bison and longhorn auctions.
In order to continue to provide these and other services to the Refuge, everyone needs to renew their membership, donate to the FOW and/or become an active volunteer. You can and will make a difference. Be vigilant, stay healthy, take care of one another and get vaccinated as soon as you can.
~ Jim Stone, Board President Emeritus