Author: refugefriends

Federal Duck Stamp Contest

Minnesota Brothers Make History at 2015 Federal Duck Stamp Contest

September 19, 2015


A trio of brothers from Minnesota made history today as they took the top three spots in the 2015 Federal Duck Stamp art contest. The announcement was made by Jerome Ford, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Assistant Director for Migratory Birds, at the annual art contest, held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W.V.

Joseph Hautman, of Plymouth, Minn., won the contest with his acrylic painting of a pair of trumpeter swans. This is Hautman’s fifth Federal Duck Stamp contest win, making him one of only two artists to have his art appear on five duck stamps.

Hautman’s painting will be made into the 2016-2017 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, or Duck Stamp, which will go on sale in late June 2016. The Service produces the Federal Duck Stamp, which sells for $25 and raises about $25 million each year to provide critical funds to conserve and protect wetland habitats in the National Wildlife Refuge System for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of people.

Robert Hautman of Delano, Minn., placed second with his acrylic painting of a pair of mallards. Robert Hautman has won the Federal Duck Stamp contest twice.

James Hautman of Chaska, Minn., took third place with his acrylic painting of a pair of mallards. He is a four-time winner of the Federal Duck Stamp Contest.

Among them, the Hautmans have won 11 Federal Duck Stamp contests.

Of 157 entries in this year’s competition, 10 entries made it to the final round of judging today. Eligible species for this year’s Federal Duck Stamp Contest were the blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal, gadwall, mallard and trumpeter swan.

“I congratulate Joseph Hautman on his win and the entire Hautman family on their artistic talent,” said Ford. “This is not just any piece of art, but one whose impact will be felt for generations to come. Duck Stamps have helped to protect more than six-and-a-half million acres of waterfowl habitat in our National Wildlife Refuge System; now that is a lasting legacy.”

“Buying Federal Duck Stamps remains the simplest way to make a difference in conserving our nation’s birds and their habitats,” said Ford. “For more than 80 years, hunters, bird watchers and millions of people who simply care about the environment have ‘put their stamp on conservation’ with their Duck Stamp purchases.”

The judges for this year’s Federal Duck Stamp Contest were: Deb Hahn, international relations director for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; Donald Messersmith, professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, who taught courses in entomology, ornithology and environmental education; James O’Donnell, museum specialist in the Collections Department of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum; Constance Sanchez, director of the Important Bird Areas Program with the National Audubon Society; and Jonathan Alderfer, an artist and author who is the birding consultant for National Geographic Books.

Waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry the current Federal Duck Stamp. Conservationists, stamp collectors and others may purchase the stamp in support of habitat conservation. A current Duck Stamp can be used for free admission to any national wildlife refuge that charges an entry fee.

Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds from sale of the Federal Duck Stamp go to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which supports the purchase of migratory bird habitat for inclusion into the National Wildlife Refuge System. You can contribute to conservation by buying Federal Duck Stamps at many national wildlife refuges, sporting goods stores and other retailers, through the U.S. Postal Service, or online at

Electronic files of the winning artwork can be downloaded from A gallery of all 2015 Federal Duck Stamp Contest entries is at:

LPO Friends Board Member Chosen to go to Washington DC

The Flyer E-Newsletter: March 2015 » National Wildlife Refuge Association



March 18 is Public Witness Day. Hosted by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, Public Witness Day is an opportunity for Americans from all over the nation to speak to decision-makers about funding priorities for natural resources. This year, the Refuge Association, along with three individuals representing Friends groups are testifying on behalf of the Refuge System. They are Bill Durkin of Friends of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine, Daniel Price of Friends of Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge in Washington, and Mary Dolven of Friends of Camas National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho.

Public Witness Day gives American citizens the opportunity to come to Washington to request funding for programs they consider a priority, such as public lands, the arts, and Native American issues. It is democracy in action, giving organizations and individuals the ability to speak directly to the lawmakers who write the funding bills for all programs within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as numerous other natural resource agencies. Any American citizen may submit testimony and apply to testify in person. The Refuge Association and several Friends groups have submitted testimony and while the opportunity to testify is March 18th, organizations still have until March 25th to submit written comments to the House and until April 30th to submit written comments to the Senate.

In March 2015 National Wildlife Refuge Association Newsletter


McDowell Trail Overlook | Friends of the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge
McDowell Trail Overlook | Friends of the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge








A small group with a lot of gusto describes the Friends of the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge. Located in a rural, northwest corner of Washington State, this group has built a strong collaboration with refuge staff, and maintains consistent volunteers and about 100 members despite being in a small town.

The group was established in 2001, and since then has developed a robust environmental education program that reaches hundreds of nearby students each year.

“It’s one of our biggest long-term accomplishments,” said group vice president Daniel Price.

The program, now more than a decade old, brings second graders and fifth graders onto the refuge. The younger students spend time exploring the 1.2 mile McDowell Marsh Environmental Education Trail, while the older students follow a customized educational program in line with their school district’s curriculum.

Price noted that despite living in a rural setting, some of the children have never been into a forest, on a picnic, or exposed to the outdoors beyond their schools playground.

The plan is to expand the program to more school districts, but to do that, they’ll need more funding.

The board walk on the McDowell Environmental Education Trail | Friends of the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge
The board walk on the McDowell Marsh Environmental Education Trail | The Friends of the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge

Friends also helped create the McDowell Marsh Environmental Education Trail in 2007, and over the years have added additional interpretive signs and features to make the trail more interactive. Today, the trail features a universally accessible boardwalk over the marsh, self guided narrative brochures, an observation blind, and access to five ecological habitats found on the refuge.

Price also noted that visitation at the refuge has increased in recent years, from about 40,000 visitors five years ago to about 70,000 visitors today. He attributes the increase to better outreach efforts, and the varied events the refuge and Friends offer, including an annual butterfly count, an Earth Day cleanup, a mushroom foray and other festivals.

As is the case at so many of America’s wildlife refuges, Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge is that much better thanks to the efforts of its local Friends group. To learn more about the Friends of Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, visit the website.

A Word from the Refuge Manager…


Manager’s Meanderings for Fall 2013

This issue I’m short on time and long on news so let’s get to it.

We’ve decided to postpone the log barn restoration project, planned for September, until next year.  Both the Regional Historian and the Regional Restoration Carpenter that guided our work last year are running out of time while working on their own local projects .  Frankly, with our own planned and unplanned work running up against the end of summer, we could use the delay ourselves.  We did have the logs collected from the refuge sawn into dimensional lumber (with the old timey looking circular saw marks) that we’ll use for restoring the barn floor. They should be well seasoned by the time we revisit the project next year.

We continue to make progress on the new auto tour.  Kelly and Gary have completed several of the gravel parking lots and pull-off areas with help from the fire crew and our colleague Jim Tucker from Kootenai NWR.  It sounds like some of the new interpretive signs may go in the ground next week.  Hooray!

Our contract for repairing Olson Creek Road went off without a hitch (well, there were a couple but…).  Knife River provided the gravel and grader to repair a few miles of the road, changing it from a tooth jarring, water gouged test of endurance to a smooth, well-draining roadway.  I love it when a plan comes together!

McDowell Lake and Potter’s Pond have been management challenges all summer.  Last spring the water control structure (aka the big metal pipe sticking out of the dam) at McDowell Lake, installed in 1972, started leaking.  The lake dropped about an inch per day for several weeks until now it’s about six feet lower that it should be, seeming to have stabilized at the current level.   The permanent fix is to drain the lake, open the dam to access the metal pipe and replace it.  Expensive, but we’re looking at tackling that next year.  In the near future we think we have a short term fix that will be buy us time until we can properly plan the replacement project.  One piece of good news is that an underwater survey of the lake failed to find any Eurasia milfoil remaining after our treatment to control that noxious invader.  The bad news was the surveyors noticed a suspicious blue-green algae bloom that has since been identified as Microsystis.  Why is that important?  Micorsystis is species of algae that contains a toxin that’s dangerous to mammals when ingested.  This algae is native and occurs naturally, rarely causing problems unless conditions encourage its growth.  We speculate that a combination of the herbicide treatment we did to control milfoil also killed some native vegetation, providing an upsurge on nutrients for the algae to feed on, coupled with the reduced lake volume due to the control structure failing and warm summer temperatures, created a “Perfect Storm” for Microsystis.  We’ve posted the lake to warn users to not let their pets drink the water, assuming pet owners will get the hint and not drink it themselves!  The good news is the cooler temperatures we normally experience after Labor Day will take care of the algae for this year.  Repairs to the water control structure and rebounding aquatic plants should discourage this from happening again.

Potter’s Pond has presented its own set of challenges this summer.  In mid-summer it also started losing water.  Its water control structure, similar to the one in McDowell Lake, but installed in 1960, also failed.  These things have been in place for 40 and 50 years respectively and they fail the same summer?!  It never rains, it pours.  Same story as McDowell, expensive to replace, but we’ve devised a short term fix we hope will buy us time.  Unfortunately it required a complete draining of the pond and the loss of the trout it contained.  But, we’re biologists and need to look at the big picture.  The thirty or so fish I saw floating near the  shore as the pond drained were gone in two days, eaten by bald eagles, coyotes and whoever else followed their nose.  Circle of life, right?  We’re now refilling the pond, but late summer is not the best time for stream flows, so it will take a while.

I don’t want to leave you with the idea the summer was all problems, so I’ll conclude on a final high note.  Volunteers from the Washington Trail Association have been working with Friends Group members on the new Big Pine hiking trail for the last two years.  In mid –August they put the finishing touches on it!  The trail is about a half a mile long, and includes a spur with an interpretive sign overlooking the Rookery Road beaver ponds.   This is our third developed trail and will be one of the stops along the new auto tour.   With those accomplishments in mind, it’s been a great summer

P.S.  Thanks to the Friends Group for again hosting the staff appreciation cookout.  Always a good time and we appreciate it!

Refuge supporters help stop a bill that threatened to disarm wildlife officers

The FOCUS Act was stopped in its tracks thanks to wildlife refuge supporters like you.

Thanks to Refuge supporters and Friends, NWRA (National Wildlife Refuge Association) was able to help stop a proposed bill that would have stripped Federal wildlife officers from their authority to carry firearms. Lawmakers had proposed a bill that threatened to disarm wildlife refuge law enforcement officers, threatening both their safety and the safety of refuge visitors. If enacted, the Freedom from Over-Criminalization and Unjust Seizures Act of 2012 (FOCUS Act) would have taken away the authority of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers to be able to carry guns.

The purpose of the FOCUS Act is to decriminalize wildlife related crimes enforced under the Lacey Act. For more than a century the Lacey Act has prevented poaching wildlife, importing illegal plants and wildlife, and the spread of invasive species. The FOCUS Act seeks to decriminalize the law that prevents wildlife from being traded illegally in the United States and helps stop the illegal importation of invasive species like the Burmese python.

The Lacey Act is a statute that gives the Fish and Wildlife Service (as well as NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) the authority to carry a firearm. By decriminalizing this law, it would prohibit the law enforcement officers that patrol our national wildlife refuges from carrying a gun.

The unintended consequences of decriminalizing the Lacey Act are sweeping and put Refuge Law Enforcement officers and the general public in great danger. Many Refuge System law enforcement officers come in contact with people carrying firearms on a daily basis. While the vast majority of these people are law-abiding citizens, not all have the best intentions. A Refuge Law Enforcement officer could be putting themselves and others at great risk when confronting an armed individual in violation of Refuge rules and regulations.

2012 Refuge System Awards


Conservation Leaders Honored with 2012 Refuge System Awards

Strong leaders and employees, dedicated volunteers, and robust Refuge Friends organizations make the Refuge System the best wildlife conservation system in the world – and inspire the next generation of conservationists. | FWS

This month, the National Wildlife Refuge Association announced the recipients of the 2012 Refuge System Awards. An impressive array of nominations for Refuge Manager of the Year, Employee of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Refuge Friends Group of the Year are submitted each year for the prestigious awards program, sponsored by NWRA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). NWRA extends congratulations to the four honorees and to all who were nominated in recognition of their exceptional commitment to wildlife conservation and the National Wildlife Refuge System!

This year’s recipients of Refuge System Awards are as follows:

Charles A. Pelizza has been selected as the recipient of the Paul Kroegel Award for Refuge Manager of the Year. Manager of the Pelican Island NWR Complex, Charlie’s leadership, professionalism and advocacy of conservation contributed significantly to the creation of the Everglades Headwaters NWR and Conservation Area earlier this year.

Kathleen O’Brien will receive the Employee of the Year Award. Kate is the wildlife biologist at the Rachel Carson NWR in Maine, where her tireless work with the endangered New England cottontail rabbit and the rare saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrow have earned her global recognition.

David Govatski will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award. David has committed himself to a lifetime of public service and has dedicated over 11,000 volunteer-hours at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. A certified silviculturalist, his varied interests encompass migratory birds, endangered plants, and invasive species.

The Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society is being honored as the Friends Group of the Year. This group works closely with refuge staff at the Alligator River and Pea Island NWRs in North Carolina, and is actively involved in engaging current and future wildlife enthusiasts of all ages. The CWRS was a founding partner in the annual Wings over Water Festival, a popular event now in its 15th year running.

The National Wildlife Refuge System Awards, sponsored by NWRA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, honor outstanding accomplishments by refuge managers, employees, volunteers and Friends groups. Recognizing the excellence of these individuals and groups not only highlights the dedication and devotion of those who support the Refuge System, but also raises awareness about the diversity of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the challenges it faces and innovative efforts across the country to meet those challenges.

March 2nd Winter Program

The Friends of the LPONWR Present:

Polar Bears-
Reliable projections in the face of uncertainty

Polar bears have been described as the Canary in the Coal mine of global warming, and they are the first species in the US to be listed as a threatened species because of projected habitat losses due to global warming. Do you wonder how this is happening? Do you have questions about global warming and its affects on wildlife?
If any of these are true, or if you just want to see some great pictures and learn some things about the great white bears of the north that have captured the human imagination through the ages…

Join us for our Winter Program

with Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, Chief Scientist for Polar Bears International who has done research on all aspects of polar bear ecology in the Beaufort Sea since 1980
Dr. Amstrup will give a talk about polar bears and a summary of global warming and its effects on them. After his talk there will be an informal discussion and question/answer session. You will be able to meet and talk with Steve about and discuss his life with the bears. If you have questions or uncertainties about global warming and its effects on polar bears or other ecosystems, you will have opportunity to bring them up and engage in informed discussion.

March 2, 2012 at the Colville Community College Theater–985 S. Elm Street, Colville

Lobby opening at 6:30 pm for refreshments, displays and t-shirt sales

Program begins at 7 pm