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Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge needs volunteers
Sheila Frisk doesn't get paid for what she does, but her work at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge is nevertheless rewarding.
Whether she is stocking the book store, leading a walking tour through the wetlands or taking part in an educational program for children, Frisk said volunteering not only has a meaningful, positive impact on the refuge and the community, but it has given her the opportunity to expand her horizons.
"I love everything that has to do with wildlife and nature," said Frisk, who has volunteered at the refuge the past two years. "This is the most fulfilling thing I've ever done."
Her husband, Dan Frisk, is the refuge manager.
The refuge is located along Old Highway 99W about seven miles south of Willows.
Lora Haller, visitor services specialist at the Willows headquarters, said Frisk is just one of many volunteers who will be needed as the refuge gears up for the height of the waterfowl season.
More than three million ducks and one million geese will begin migrating to the Sacramento Valley next month, bringing thousands of birders and other visitors to the area refuges through February.
Volunteers are mostly needed at the refuges in Colusa, Willows and the Lano Seco unit, located near the Sacramento River south of Ord Bend.
"We have a very small staff so volunteers are very important," Haller said.
Haller is looking for volunteers to assist at the visitor center, as well as greet visitors and provide information at the viewing platforms, help with auto and walking tours and help with maintaining facilities and numerous other refuge activities.
Volunteers are asked to help out by working a few times a month in five-hour shifts.
The refuge also exchanges RV space for volunteers who work four days a week, Haller said.
Volunteers are also needed on Sept. 22 for the annual "brush-up" day at the Sacramento (Willows) and Delevan refuges.
Volunteers will spend the morning cleaning blinds, staking pathways and other activities to help the refuge prepare for the waterfowl hunting season.
In the afternoon, the refuge will conduct a hunter forum to discuss wetland conditions, waterfowl population trends and hunting regulations.
About 50 to 60 volunteer are needed for that day, Haller said.
The refuge is also gearing up for its anniversary bash on Oct. 13, when the Sacramento refuge turns 75 and the Delevan refuge turns 50.
The event will include a celebration, kids activities, displays, a birdwatching tour and photography tour at the Willows visitor center and a birdwatching tour at the Delevan refuge.
The wildlife, mostly wintering waterfowl, bring more than 80,000 visitors to area each year, Haller said. About 25,000 people typically visit the Colusa refuge annually, but the appearance of a rare falcated duck last year attracted about 10,000 more visitors than usual.
Avid birder Kenn Rohrs, of Reno, who was visiting the refuge in Willows on Thursday said he and his wife made five trips to see the falcated duck last year.
"The Colusa refuge is always our favorite," he said. "You get to see a large number of birds in a short period of time."
Although the Colusa auto tour is closed for improvements until Sept. 14, Rohrs said he enjoyed driving the extra few miles to Willows to see the migrating shorebirds that take up residence this time of year.
"I can't believe how many Black-necked Stilts are out there," he said.
Haller said the refuges and wildlife management areas will likely see a large number of new and repeat visitors this year.
It is unknown if the possibly Asian-born duck will return to Colusa, but visitors may be just as interested in the first bald eagle to be born on the refuge in Willows.
The eaglet, who was born in mid-April, was last spotted along the auto trail on Wednesday.
Eagles typically nest near the river, Haller said.