President's Messages 2015

July 2015

It seems like just yesterday we were dodging hailstones and more chilly spring rain than reasonable.  This week temperatures have landed solidly in the 90s in the Upper Valley, and even tickled the 100 degree mark in some spots.  Lots of heat stresses us, our lawns, and our wildlife friends at Camas.  The few ponds which the refuge was able to fill this spring are shrinking.  Pumps are keeping Big Pond, Red Head and Sandhole Lake wet.  The lush upland grasses and forbs which are the mainstay of the elk, deer, and antelope on the refuge are mostly brown and will soon be tinder dry.  I can only imagine the stress this sort of summer would have put on the early settlers of the area (hence this month’s banner photo).   Many homesteaders were lured here from much wetter areas in the midwest and eastern states, and expected a similar environment in SE Idaho.  Their dreams must have withered along with their crops.  Speaking of history, Friends is looking for volunteers who can help us develop an Auto Tour App for the Refuge.  We envision an application on your phone or other portable device which would broadcast historical, biological, geological, archaeological and other “icle” facts as one travels around the refuge.   We are very ignorant of the technology to make this happen.  If you have any expertise in app development, or have unique information on the geology, history, ecology, etc. of the refuge and surrounding area, please contact me. 

Two other items for this month.  Friends of Camas was the first Friends group in US Fish and Wildlife Service Region 1 to host a mentoring session to propel us forward.  Cheryl Hart, President of the Friends of Tualatin River NWR, and Tim Miller, Manager of one of the many National Wildlife Refuges in Wisconsin.  Cheryl and Tim spend two days in eastern Idaho meeting with the Board of Directors of Friends of Camas.  Their experience, expertise, and gentle approach to helping the board better support the refuge was educational and enjoyable. 

Last, there are some accomplishments which give one deep satisfaction.  The Board of Friends of Camas experienced that feeling when we hosted a Dutch oven dinner for the refuge mentors and invited guests at our newly completed pavilion.  Nancy Maxwell, the founder of Friends of Camas was able to join us.  On September 12, 2015, during the Annual Camas Day, we will formally dedicate the Nancy Maxwell Education Pavilion.   We hope you and our family can share that day with us.   

November 2015

After an extraordinarily protracted and beautiful tail-end to summer, typical fall weather has finally arrived in eastern Idaho.   The cool wet weather will be good for the refuge.  The changing of the seasons always brings about a duplicity of vision:  looking backward at what was accomplished, and looking forward to new challenges and opportunities.  Identifying accomplishments is easy this year.  There are several that were significant.  First and foremost, we completed the Nancy Maxwell Education and Conservation Pavilion (including the solar panels) , and held the formal dedication at our September “Birds, Bugles and Brunch – Discover Camas” event.  We, along with Idaho Master Naturalists, began the Pollinator Garden Project, which when finished will provide several different habitats specifically for hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, bees, and other pollinator species.  We have several other projects in the oven, including the long-awaited Peregrine Falcon nest web cam which we hope to finalize by the end of the calendar year.  This last year saw a 10% increase in Friends membership, demonstrating the increased interest from the community in what we do.  Your Board of Directors completed a Strategic Planning effort this spring, and we further benefitted from a three day visit by the USFWS Mentoring program for Friends organizations.  Both efforts have helped us prepare for propelling Friends of Camas forward with new projects, partnerships, and events.  Speaking of events, we have an ambitious wish list for 2016.   Our ultimate goal is to have at least one public event every month at Camas.  For 2016, we have at least five on the drawing board:  Starting with “Come to roost at Camas”  when we spend an winter evening watching dozens of Bald Eagles return to their night roost in the Camas cottonwoods, and ending with the annual meeting in the fall.  In between we are planning activities around the annual migration of Snow Geese (March) and song birds (late May or early June), as well as the meteor showers of Perseids in August.  Exact dates will be on the website soon after the first of the year.   Now is a great time to visit Camas NWR.   Migrating waterfowl are arriving in great numbers, the White-tailed Deer are entering the rut and emboldened, and the elk are lurking in the willows.  Enjoy!

2014 President's Messages

2013 President's Messages