Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge honors volunteers


The Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge honored three volunteers with the Spirit of the Wild award on March 11.

Curt Mohler, Dave Phelps and Mel Sanchez received raw obsidian from Tanna Engdahl, spiritual leader of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, as a gift, and a glass award with an oak tree and a crane flying over it with text reading, “A community flourishes when its roots are strong. Thank you for giving our Refuge roots through your support” as a token from the Friends.

“The secret and unsung strength of this refuge, is not just federal staff, or even a board dedicated to supporting this land area, (all that is good of course) it is the volunteers,” Engdahl said in her speech at the awards ceremony. “All three are well known as being equally reliable as well as friendly and supportive. They always show up with a smile, and encouragement and

are always willing to jump in where needed. They care as much about connecting communities to nature as they do making sure that we have healthy wildlife and habitat.”

The volunteers focus on habitat maintenance with anything from blackberry and fence removal to operating heavy equipment, Engdahl said in her speech.

“If we didn’t have volunteers, we would be half an ocean below shoreline,” Engdahl said. “In other words, the refuge would be so much less — three times less than the whole.”