Springtime in the Wichita Mountains

Photo by Bill Shreve

Spring is the perfect time to get outdoors. The animals are active and visible. The wildflowers are starting to bloom. The weather is neither too hot nor too cold. The number of people visiting the refuge are not overwhelming, yet. So, this is the ideal time to break out of those winter doldrums and enjoy nature.

Repeated studies show that time spent outdoors in nature reduces stress, improves creativity, enhances our mood, and even helps children with ADHD. To understand more about how spending time outside makes us happier you should read Florence Williams book “The Nature Fix” or go to treehugger.com.

There are a number of ways to enjoy the outdoors in the Wichita Mountains NWR (WMWR) – hiking, biking, climbing, fishing, birding, picnicking, wildlife viewing and assisting on projects with the FOW.

You can also go on the FOW Members Wildflower Walk, Saturday, May 4, that leaves from the Visitor Center at 10:00 am – no reservation needed.

May is also a good month for everyone to pitch in and start doing a little ‘Spring Cleaning’ on the WMWR by carrying a trash bag and picking up trash as it is encountered. Trash is not only unsightly, it is also detrimental to the health and wellbeing of wildlife. Educating others about the negative effects of trash on wildlife and the environment encourages them to pick up trash and gives them a sense of ownership, as well. Hikers can really make a difference in maintaining the WMWR.

Help Protect the Refuge

The Refuge averages 2 million visitors annually. We all have a responsibility to help protect these 59,020 acres that give us so much pleasure. The Charons Garden Wilderness area is being degraded at an alarming rate. The major problem is over use – too many people in too small of an area.

An ancillary problem is social media. Everyone wants to take that perfect picture from the perfect spot to record their awesome experience. The photo, the experience and the location is then shared on social media. Then the power of social media to attract even more hikers expands exponentially. Leave No Trace (lnt.org), an organization that promotes ethical use of public lands and especially wild places, has established social media guidelines, and asks people to avoid tagging specific places.

~ Jim Stone, FOW President

Photo courtesy of Bill Shreve