Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pitching in

As fellow volunteers, Tom and Sally, headed out to visit friends and relatives in Georgia late last week, they got a call that Sally’s father had taken ill.  Her parents live in Florida, so they made a detour to head down there.  The other day we found out that Sally’s dad had died, and they would not be able to return to the refuge when they expected.  I said I’d step up and cover their Visitor’s Center assignment today.  So I headed in to open things up a little before 8:00 this morning.  There aren’t too many visitors first thing in the morning, and it’s a good thing, as my key wouldn’t open one of the doors.  The refuge manager and I propped it open, and I got everything else set up.

Things went smoothly until 9:00 when a group of nine folks showed up from Gulf Shores State Park in Alabama for their scheduled tour of the refuge.  Say what?  There was nothing on the schedule that indicated a tour group was coming.  They insisted they had made arrangements with someone.  Alrighty then.  One of the interns had taken our van for the day, but the group from Alabama said they had a van.  So I hopped in the van with them and took them on a two hour tour.  It turned out exceptionally well, as we were able to observe 20 Mississippi Sandhill Cranes during out journey.  My key malfunctioned again when I tried to unlock the entrance to the area with the bald eagles nest, so we didn’t get to go to that area.  Grrr!  Everyone appeared to be quite satisfied with what we did see, so it all turned out well in the end.

66 MS Sandhill Crane NWR 20123

For newer readers that didn’t accompany me on my stint here last year, I’ve included a couple of collages of what the Visitor’s Center looks like and has to offer.  After Katrina, this facility was built and is quite nice.

66 MS Sandhill Crane NWR 20124

We have a number of interactive displays, and a very nice 12 minute movie on the work of the refuge.  This was the first refuge established under the authority of the Endangered Species Act in 1973.  The gentleman in the center was instrumental in the founding of this refuge, and even stopped the construction of I-10 back then as it cut through the last remaining stronghold of the Mississippi sandhill crane.  There were only 30 or so of these birds left on earth at that time.  Jake Valentine is considered the “father” of this refuge.  I sure wish I could have met him.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy