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Summer 2016
Friends of Aransas Board of Directors
Fred Lanoue - President
Amanda Rocha - Secretary
Linda Lanoue - Treasurer
Linda Frank - Director
Ellen Reisinger - Director
Irma Hernandez Schreiner - Director
Linda Swiggett - Director

A Word from the President


One of the stories you can read in this newsletter is the announcement that our new pollinator garden (soon to be a certified Monarch Waystation!) is now open to the public. FAMI volunteers worked extremely hard to build this garden, and we believe it will give the public another great reason to visit our wonderful refuge. We appreciate all the help we've received from Refuge management & staff. In order for the garden to be successful over the long term, we are going to need volunteers that will help with weeding and other maintenance chores. We plan to have regular monthly workdays on the fourth Tuesday of each month, but we know that schedule won't work for everybody. If you would like to help by doing a little weeding every now and then, you can set your own schedule for when you volunteer, all we ask is that you coordinate with us each time before you start work. Please send me an email if you can help with maintenance on our pollinator garden.

In the next few weeks you will be receiving an email from FAMI with an invitation to participate in a survey. The survey is very short and will take less than five minutes to complete. This survey has been developed by the FAMI Membership Committee to let us know how we can best serve our members. We really want your feedback, so please clink on the link to take the survey.

Fred Lanoue, President
Refuge staff & volunteers working together to plant the garden.
Refuge Update
By Joe Saenz, Project Leader

The heat of summer is upon us and we have started the last quarter of Fiscal Year 2016. Visitation has slowed down considerably since the spring, but work on Aransas remains busy.
Our biology team recently assisted the Peregrine Fund with banding 14 Aplomado Falcon hatchlings on Matagorda Island, and continues to treat invasive species such as Phragmites and Chinese Tallow. Gulf Coast Zone Biologist Jena Moon assisted the Aransas Biology Team with Carolina Vegetation Survey (CVS) plots. These plots allow the refuge to track habitat changes and provide information on vegetation responses to management actions.
Aransas NWR is now 5 months into its cooperative grazing program at the Myrtle-Foester Whitmire Unit and has successfully grazed 1,004 acres. The program has been successful in providing much needed manipulation to moist soil units and positive vegetation responses have been observed.
Summer prescribed burn preparations are still underway despite the recent rains and we hope to conduct burns on Matagorda Island, the Tatton Unit, and the Blackjack Peninsula. The rains have also slowed progress on the roof replacement at our maintenance shop.
A Visitor Services Review was completed by the Regional Office last month. Some great suggestions were made, and we look forward to implementing new ideas. The Visitor Services Team spent much of May conducting educational programs for local schools.
Federal Wildlife Officer Giles has been busy with a number of law enforcement cases, including drugs washed up on Matagorda Island, littering at the fishing pier and Big Tree Trail, visitors on the refuge after hours, undersized fish, and trespassing at Dagger Point.
The Mid-Coast Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists coordinated the filming of a documentary celebrating the contributions of Wayne "Doc" and Martha McAlister to environmental education on Matagorda Island. Staff and Master Naturalist volunteers spent a day on the island with the film crew.
Interns Marissa Ortega and Taylor Franklin have joined our biology team and bring great enthusiasm to the program. They will assist the staff with multiple projects and will provide much needed support to Aransas NWR.
A Youth Conservation Corps crew was hired to assist with refuge projects. Four students from the Austwell/Tivoli school district were selected to the crew to help for 8 weeks this summer. SCA Intern Chris Sandoval is their group leader for the program.

Aplamado Falcon chick

Photo by Diana Iriarte, USFWS

Whooping Crane Update
Photo by Laura Bonneau, USFWS

Whooping Crane Survey Results: Winter 2015-2016  
329 Wild Whooping Cranes Estimated
 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed aerial surveys of the primary survey area centered on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge to estimate the abundance of whooping cranes in the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population. Preliminary analyses of the survey data indicated 329 whooping cranes (95% CI = 293-371; CV = 0.073) inhabited the primary survey area (Figure 1). This estimate included 38 juveniles (95% CI = 33-43; CV = 0.078) and 122 adult pairs (95% CI = 108-137; CV = 0.071). Recruitment of juveniles into the winter flock was 13 chicks (95% CI = 12-14; CV = 0.036) per 100 adults, which is comparable to long-term average recruitment. The precision of this year's estimate achieved the target set in the whooping crane inventory and monitoring protocol (i.e., CV < 0.10).

Interpretive Pollinator Garden

By Ellen Reisinger
Photos by Steve Reisinger

The Aransas Wildlife Refuge is proud to announce the installation of a new Pollinator Garden. Pollinators are animals that move pollen from one part of a flower of a plant to another. Birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths and beetles are all considered to be pollinators. Pollinators such as bees and butterflies are beautiful and fun to watch. They also are play a critical role in our lives and are responsible for about one of every three bites of food that we eat. There is increasing evidence that many pollinators are in decline. Urban development, agricultural practices and pesticides are threatening their habitats. Much has been said about the plight of the Monarch Butterfly, but taking action for all pollinators is just as important. We all can help by using less pesticides and planting appropriate plants in our yards.
The Aransas Wildlife Refuge Pollinator Garden is intended to not only to be a haven for pollinators but a demonstration garden for the public as well. It is important to note that all plants found in this garden are native and endemic to the refuge. Both nectar and host plants were installed for a wide variety of pollinators. Nectar plants provide food and energy. Examples of nectar plants found in the garden are: Cowpen Daisy ( Verbesina encelioides), Texas Lantana ( Lantana urticoides), Scarlet Sage ( Salvia coccinea), Crucita, Fragrant Mistflower ( Chromolaena odorata), Turk's Cap ( Malvaviscus arboreus), Goldenrod ( Solidago odora) and Padre Island Mistflower ( Conoclinium betonicifolium). This selection and wide variety of plants will provide nectar from spring through fall. Host plants are food sources for butterfly caterpillars. Host plants included in this garden are: Green Milkweed ( Asclepias viridis), and soon to be added Zizotes Milkweed ( Asclepias oenotheroides). Trees include Sugar Hackberry ( Celtis laevigata) which is a larval host plant for 6 different butterflies.
Come by and visit the garden. Sit a spell on the bench and see how many different pollinators you can find. We hope you will feel inspired to create a pollinator garden in your own back yard.
If you'd like to help maintain the garden, please contact us.
See the progress of our garden in our photo gallery.
Nature Store

Photo by Irma Schreiner


We do not have a store update this issue. However, we can always use volunteers in the Nature Store. If you'd like to volunteer, please contact store manager Irma Schreiner for more information.
Check from City of Rockport
Left to right: Parks Department Director Tom Staley, Mayor C.J. Wax, Friends President Fred Lanoue, Parks Department Staff Rick Martinez.

Our organization received a check for $1085.00 from the City of Rockport. The check represented a portion of all the paid entries for the 2016 Whooping Crane Strut. The money will be deposited in our Water for Wildlife Fund.

The fund is used to drill new wells, and rehabilitate old ones  to ensure reliable fresh water sources for Whooping Cranes & other wildlife in times of drought. The fund was most recently used to drill 2 wells on Matagorda Island, with solar powered pumps. We hope to rebuild the fund, as there is an older well on the island that needs to be rehabilitated.
Boy Scount Troop 135
Mulch Crew
Boy Scout Troop 135 and other workers

Once our pollinator garden was planted, the plants needed to be mulched. Unloading & spreading a large trailer load of mulch seemed a daunting process. Jen Brown, Environmental Education Specialist, arranged with Boy Scout Troop # 135 to help as their service project. The scout group, from Ganada, TX, was absolutely amazing! They and their adult advisors, along with volunteers Ellen Reisinger, Hannah Plumpton, Linda Frank and Fred Lanoue were equal to the task. It was hard work, and they got more accomplished in a couple of hours than we ever imagined! They even made sure that all the mulch was cleaned out of the trailer & off the parking lot, and that all the tools were collected when they were done. What a great group!

Earth Day Bay Day
Linda Swiggett at FAMI table
Photo by Gay Heijmancik
Linda Swiggett and Gay Heijmancik did a wonderful job representing Friends of Aransas and Aransas National Wildlife Refuge at Earth Day Bay Day in Corpus Christi on April 9th. They gave out 500 shells they had painted, as well as Roseate Spoonbill postcards and Aransas NWR pencils, and information about the refuge. Linda has created a photo album that she had on display at the table, and that got a lot of interest. Linda & Gay talked with people about the refuge and invited them to come out to see it for themselves. They signed up over 50 people that want to receive our e-newsletter to keep up with what is going on at the refuge.

The same day, Irma Schreiner and Ron Smudy represented FAMI at Nature Fest in Coleto Creek Park, near Victoria.
Upcoming Events

  September 15-18 - Rockport-Fulton HummerBird Celebration. We will be in the Hummer Mall September 16-18.
Thank You to Supporters

Thank you to:


Our Corporate Sponsor, Hilcorp Energy for their continued support.


City of Rockport, TX for contributing to our Water for Wildlife Fund.


Our pollinator garden mighty maintenance team: Linda Frank, Ellen Reisinger, Fred Lanoue, Laurel Cahill, Laura Clark, Lillian Gasca, & Linda Lanoue. They meet monthly to help in the garden. If you'd like to help, too, let us know.


We do not list individual donors without permission, but we greatly appreciate everything we receive. You can contribute to our general fund, or specify that you want your donation go to a special purpose, such as the Whooping Crane or Connecting Kids with Nature Fund.


Thank you to everyone that donated by using the Smile program when shopping at Each purchase through the Smile program earns a small contribution to FAMI. You pay the same price for the same goods & services as using regular Amazon.


As always, we thank everyone for helping us help Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.