As part of celebrating the Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge’s 20th anniversary, we asked you in a previous newsletter to answer the question: What does the Refuge mean to me? We love these responses!
The Willapa National Wildlife Refuge has always been a welcome landmark in my memories of growing up on the peninsula. I spent the first 5 years of life looking over at Long Island from our oyster plant. We lived upstairs over the plant and had a “bird’s eye view” of the island.
In those days we didn’t leave the peninsula often but I remember on one occasion stopping at the refuge to relieve an upset stomach. Maybe it was that stop when my father told me the refuge kept an old pet lion there! That made quite an impression on a little girl. In recent years my husband and I took a Nature Conservancy tour of Long Island to see the cedar grove. Am so thankful that the Island is being protected. What does the refuge mean to me? It means preservation of God’s Gifts.
I thank all who work to preserve the life and land of this beautiful country.
What the refuge means to me is, “solitude in nature.” A few years ago, I and a friend loaded our mountain bikes into my canoe and paddled out to Long Island. It was the off season, so we had the island to ourselves. We spent the day riding our bikes the entire length of the island enjoying the wonderful natural beauty of the place. Along the way we visited the giant cedars, viewed the wildlife, and saw the oyster beds. But above all we enjoyed the quiet nature of the island. It is a solitude created because the island is surrounded by the refuge. I am glad it is, so that now everyone can enjoy the solitude. I became connected to the refuge by just being a visitor.
Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is an exceptionally biodiverse set of biomes—which is to say it has a lot going for it, ecologically speaking! That means it has places for all sorts of wildlife, plants and fungi to thrive, even in a world that increasingly encroaches upon what’s left of our natural habitats. These safe spaces will be even more crucial as time goes on, and to me the Refuge represents hope. It’s a hope that we will do better in the future as a species, and that we will make more room for other living beings. Preserving habitat now means that we will have more resources for restoration later.