The Chamber Business Spotlight of the Week is The Friends of Crab Orchard Wild Life Refuge.
The Friends of Crab Orchard is an affiliated group of people, mainly local residents, who love and support Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. Many of us volunteer at various activities at the Refuge. Our mission is to support the missions and goals of the Refuge. As you can imagine we work collaboratively with U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff. We have a formal partnership agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife, this document defines our relationship and areas of interest for both parties. To accomplish our mission we may write grants through federal or state agencies as applicable. We currently have two grants fully funded that are active. One is for the “Pollinator Habitat Project,” and the second for Wetlands improvement.
These projects are either currently visible or will be soon. The Pollinator Habitat Project lies around the Harmony Trail parking lot and encompasses several acres. We have funded invasive controls, growing and planting of various native grasses, forbs, trees, and shrubs. We have established several concentrated display beds near the parking lot and across Pigeon Creek road in a reestablished prairie. Volunteers work on these beds and they provide habitat, beauty, photographic opportunity and simply natural enjoyment for the public.
The Wetlands project will be constructed in the Heron Flats area, this is just south of the Lake on Rte. 148. We are embellishing a larger Wetlands improvement project that is undertaken by U.S. Fish and Wildlife. We are awaiting proper weather conditions to start the project. Most of this work will be done through contractors.
Covid restrictions have impacted our organization as it has all businesses and organizations. We now meet monthly via Zoom. The main impacts are to a staple of the Refuge Visitor’s Center, the Woodland Gift Shop. Our organization operates the Gift Shop and it is the main source of revenue for our general operating costs (which are thankfully minimal) So, our last day of operation was March 12, 2020. We do not expect to resume normal operations until the new Visitors Center opens. U.S. Fish and Wildlife is finalizing the bid process for construction currently. It is expected to be complete sometime in the first quarter of 2022. This is all dependent on Covid restrictions of course.
The second impact is to volunteer efforts. We support volunteer projects and processes and they were all stopped on March 13, 2020. Outside opportunities were reviewed and some were restored in July of 2020. We support the Pollinator Habitat Project, Refuge Patrol, Trail and Sign Crew, Blue Bird Box maintenance, and are restarting Environmental Education efforts. Environmental education will be limited and as Covid restrictions are lifted perhaps return to normal later this year.
Individual membership is only $10.00 per year, the whole fee table is on the slip. We produce 4 quarterly newsletters primarily written by our Board members. With membership, you will also receive our monthly Board meeting minutes, And when our Book Store reopens, a 10% saving on purchased goods at the store.
We have a website, it is in the process of renovation but has basic information about our organization.
We also have two related Facebook pages:
“Friends of Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge”
“Friends of CONWR and Photography”
We hope you enjoy Crab Orchard, and we hope you consider us if you love it.
Rick Whitecotton, President, Friends of Crab Orchard
CONSIDER BECOMING A MEMBER OF THE FRIENDS OF CRAB ORCHARD WILDLIFE!
Mark the Membership you desire and send a check made payable to: Friends Of Crab Orchard Refuge, 8588 Rte. 148, Marion, IL 62959.
____ Annual Single Student (age 16 and above) - $ 5.00
____ Annual Individual - $ 10.00
____ Annual Family - $ 20.00
____ Annual Business - $100.00
____ Lifetime - $ 250.00