A Day on the Refuge

The day started out with clear skies and a chill north
wind sweeping down across Camas National Wildlife Ref-
uge as Mary Dolven and Evan Tibbott of the Upper Snake
Chapter of IMN prepared for two groups of cub scouts. A
program known as "Go Outside" has been an ongoing
activity there since 2010 and has included Therese Lloyd,
who was away on Saturday. The day begins with an intro-
ductory talk about the purpose of the refuge for migrating
waterfowl and song birds, its operation and source of wat-
er, and an overview of the national wildlife refuge system
which includes over 550 refuges from Alaska to Florida
and the southern border. As the groups are taken out over
part of the refuge, these youngsters and their guides have
the opportunity to view some of the species that are pres-
sent and visit specific, marked sites.that explain import-
ant features. The refuge is 10,586 acres and has, until
recent decades, received most of its water from Camas
Creek, fed by snowmelt from the Centennial Mountains
along the Montana border. A combination of drought and
the needs of irrigation have materially lowered the water
table, so that nine wells now feed water through 31 miles
canals into ponds and wetlands. The refuge was created
in 1937 from land occupied by a number of small ranches.

Following the tour, the group is sent out on a scaveng-
er hunt around a section of the immediate area to record
their observations of specific natural features. The tour
ends back at the refuge headquarters with a discussion
on their cub scout work to help fulfill the Nature section of
their scout requirements and answer any questions. Then,
they gather on the lawn for lunch.

Saturday, we had two groups from Rexburg and by
early afternoon, the sky was filling with clouds. A persist-
northeast wind continued to sweep down from the higher
terrain to the north and east. Thunder was heard.and as
the second group started out on their scavenger tour,
lightning just to the south. Evan followed, ready to call the
group in if it got too close. As everyone gathered back on
the lawn for the scout work, rain, mixed with a little fine
hail, chased us in under a small overhang, where Mary
and Evan led them in a discussion of their scout work and
observations.

It is always a pleasure to get out on the refuge, as the
view takes in the entire expanse of the upper Snake Plain
with the Lost River, Lemhi and Beaverhead ranges to the
west, and the Centennials to the north. It brings into phy
sical perspective the same features that would appear
on a topographical map. It is one of the most inspiring
scenes of the world.