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Back Bay refuge in Virginia Beach seeks support for new nonprofit

A sunset view at at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge on Friday, June 15. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

BY JOHN-HENRY DOUCETTE

SANDBRIDGE – Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge seeks interested citizens to participate in a new nonprofit friends group that could build stronger community ties and drum up volunteer support for the refuge.

The group might also assist the refuge with outreach, said Erica Ryder, visitor services specialist at the refuge, during a meeting of the Sandbridge Beach Civic League on Monday, June 18, at Sandbridge Community Chapel United Methodist Church.

“Many refuges around the country have a friends group,” Ryder said. “Right now, we’re really reaching out to see who might be interested in joining.”

Ryder said the group might include volunteers and people who can either do community outreach or be called upon for special projects and to help the refuge address needs. 

“We want to have a nice avenue to hear from the community,” Ryder said.

The friends group under discussion should not be confused with an existing organization, the Friends of Back Bay, which formed in the 1980s and led efforts to expand and conserve, including securing millions in funding. The refuge now boasts more than 9,250 protected acres.

That group is still going and is supportive of the refuge’s effort to form another group that would aid efforts such as volunteering and educational programs.

“Our mission is protecting the Back Bay refuge and watershed,” said Molly Brown, the longtime president of Friends of Back Bay. 

Brown and Friends of Back Bay have been recognized for their work supporting acquisition efforts, including raising $24 million toward that goal over the years, according to the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

“A lot of us are getting older, so a lot of us would be happy to pass the baton,” Brown said during an interview this past week.

Erica Ryder, visitor services specialist at the refuge, addresses the Sandbridge Beach Civic League on Monday, June 18. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]


Those interested in participating can reach Ryder via erica_ryder@fws.gov.


© 2018 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

The Independent News

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