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Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges of Rhode Island Fund
By Jean Cohoon / August 25, 2016 /   Loading Disqus...
They monitor salt marshes, promote the benefits of refuges to the local community, and assist with habitat restoration and invasive species eradication programs.

“They” are members of the Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) of Rhode Island, a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 to assist the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with wildlife and habitat preservation at the five NWRs in Rhode Island. The refuges - Block Island, John H. Chafee, Ninigret, Sachuest Point, and Trustom Pond – comprise approximately 2,400 acres of protected salt ponds, rocky shorelines, wetlands, beaches, forests, and more that are home to hundreds of animal and plant species. A focus of the refuges is migratory birds and more than 400 species – songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and raptors – use the refuges each spring and fall.

Robert Kenney, treasurer and secretary of the Friends’ board of directors, elaborates the group’s roles: helping staff the refuges’ contact stations, visitor centers, and gift shops; organizing an annual photo contest; leading walks; maintaining trails; and planning fundraisers and other special events. The Friends’ help educate the public about conservation, including through an annual lecture series; recent “Wildlife Wednesday” topics have ranged from belugas in the bay to ecology and conservation of bobcats in Rhode Island. “We assist refuge staff in whatever way we can to further the conservation goals,” Bob says.

Financial support also is part of that assistance. Memorial contributions made to the Friends following the death of Edmond “Jerry” Morris, a founder and first president of the Friends, allowed the organization to contribute toward the renovation of the Sachuest Point Visitor Center and to establish this endowment.

Bob notes that he became familiar with the Rhode Island Foundation as a member of the board of the Narrow River Preservation Association when that organization established its first endowment with the Foundation. “An endowment is a good thing for a nonprofit to have. The endowment will grow forever and hopefully, in the long run, the Friends will be able to expand and do more things,” Bob concludes.
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