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March 2015



Summer Fest 2015 Trash to Treasure Contest

Rescue some trash from the recycling bin or the garbage and make it into something pretty or useful. Bring it to the refuge to display and maybe win a cash prize. Divisions are Ages 17+, Ages 13 – 16, Ages 9 – 12, and Ages 8 & Under.

Submit your entries by June 12th and the winners will be announced June 27th at the ENWR's Summer Fest. All entries will be displayed that day and at the refuge until the week of July 13th. Entries must be picked up by July 17th or they will be come property of the Friends of ENWR.

For information and entry form go here.



ENWR Spring Clean Up Day

Spring is here and it's time to think about spring cleaning. Spring Clean Up Day on the Erie National Wildlife Refuge that is! The Clean Up date is scheduled for Sunday, April 12, 2015. Celebrate Earth Day early this year by cleaning up the Refuge! We will be meeting at 1:00pm at the ENWR Headquarters building in Guys Mills.

This year we are working with the Great American Cleanup of PA, which is from March 1st to May 31st. As a registered event we can get free cleanup supplies such as bags, gloves and vests donated by PennDOT and Keep America Beautiful. If you can't join us on the ENWR on April 12th consider finding another event to participate in here.

This event is open to adults and families alike! Hope to see you there!






Campaign to Save Beleaguered Monarch Butterfly

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service launched a major campaign aimed at saving the declining monarch butterfly.

The Service signed a cooperative agreement with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), announced a major new funding initiative with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and pledged $2 million in immediate funding for on-the-ground conservation projects around the country.

Introducing the new initiatives at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. were Service Director Dan Ashe, U.S. Senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar, NWF President and CEO Collin O’Mara, and NFWF representatives.

Monarchs are found across the United States. While they numbered some 1 billion in 1996, their numbers have declined by approximately 90 percent in recent years. The decline is the result of numerous threats, particularly loss of habitat due to agricultural practices, development and cropland conversion. Degradation of wintering habitat in Mexico and California has also had a negative impact on the species.

“We can save the monarch butterfly in North America, but only if we act quickly and together,” said Ashe. “And that is why we are excited to be working with the National Wildlife Federation and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to engage Americans everywhere, from schools and community groups to corporations and governments, in protecting and restoring habitat. Together we can create oases for monarchs in communities across the country.”

The memorandum of understanding between NWF and the Service will serve as a catalyst for national collaboration on monarch conservation, particularly in planting native milkweed and nectar plants, the primary food sources in breeding and migration habitats for the butterfly.

The new NFWF Monarch Conservation Fund was kick-started by an injection of $1.2 million from the Service that will be matched by private and public donors. The fund will provide the first dedicated source of funding for projects working to conserve monarchs.

From California to the Corn Belt, the Service will also fund numerous conservation projects totaling $2 million this year to restore and enhance more than 200,000 acres of habitat for monarchs while also supporting more than 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens. Many of the projects will focus on the I-35 corridor from Texas to Minnesota, areas that provide important spring and summer breeding habitats in the eastern population’s central flyway.

The monarch may be the best-known butterfly species in the United States. Every year they undertake one of the world’s most remarkable migrations, traveling thousands of miles over many generations from Mexico, across the United States, to Canada.

The monarch’s exclusive larval host plant and a critical food source is native milkweed, which has been eradicated or severely degraded in many areas across the U.S. The accelerated conversion of the continent’s native short and tallgrass prairie habitat to crop production has also had an adverse impact on the monarch.

The monarch serves as an indicator of the health of pollinators across the American landscape. Conserving and connecting habitat for monarchs will benefit other plants, animals and important insect and avian pollinators.

A new Web site -- http://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch -- provides information on how Americans can get involved with the campaign.



Celebrating a Milestone in Conservation – the Recovery of the Oregon Chub
By Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. fish and Wildlife Service

A winter storm grounded me in Washington on February 19, keeping me from traveling to Portland to mark the recovery of the Oregon chub. But no amount of snow can keep me from celebrating this milestone in conservation history.

As small as the 3-inch chub is, it will forever be known for a giant accomplishment – becoming the first fish ever removed from the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

In only about 20 years, the chub has gone from the brink of extinction to thriving across its historic range in the Willamette River Basin. In 1993, the species numbered fewer than 1,000 fish in eight small populations. Thanks to a phenomenal conservation effort by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other dedicated partners, the Oregon chub has expanded to more than 80 populations with an estimated 140,000 fish.

That’s truly remarkable. We simply don’t see many species recover in what is, in biological terms, the blink of an eye.

While the Oregon chub isn’t as iconic as other Pacific Northwest fish species like the salmon or steelhead, it’s a vital part of the freshwater floodplain ecosystem of the Willamette River Basin – the lifeblood of western Oregon. As a result, partnership-driven efforts to help the chub recover have also benefited other species and local communities. Partners have improved management of the entire river system – providing increased recreational opportunities, better flood control, improved water quality and a healthier ecosystem for both wildlife and people.

The Endangered Species Act was the last line of defense for the Oregon chub, just as it is for hundreds of other native species facing extinction. With every species that is lost, we leave a more impoverished planet to future generations, and deprive them of the benefits of healthy ecosystems with vibrant biological diversity.

The chub’s recovery shows how the ESA can and should work – bringing partners together to recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they, and we, depend. In the case of the chub, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife led the charge, conducting research and monitoring, promoting habitat protection and improvements, and conducting reintroductions of the fish into unoccupied habitats.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff worked closely with them to support recovery efforts. For example, the staff of the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex did an amazing job of enhancing chub habitat on the refuge. Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program staff worked tirelessly with local landowners who willingly agreed to put an endangered species on their land. And staff from our Columbia River Fisheries Program Office and Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office laid the groundwork for the delisting action.

A broad spectrum of organizations and individuals made other key contributions to the chub’s recovery, including the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and their Tribal Fish and Wildlife Program, which helped evaluate the impacts of stream management options on the chub. The Army Corps of Engineers played a vital role in implementing many of the stream management improvements vital to the chub’s recovery. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service protected 623 acres of chub habitat through Wetlands Reserve Program conservation easements. Professors and students from Oregon State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife completed some of the important underlying science to guide recovery efforts. And perhaps most crucially, dozens of private landowners in the Willamette River Basin stepped up and provided habitat on their land. It has truly been a collaborative effort.

By ensuring the recovery of the Oregon chub, we have taken a giant step toward honoring our commitment to future generations.



Refuge System Chief Jim Kurth Named Service Deputy Director

Jim Kurth, a major presence in National Wildlife Refuge System leadership for the past decade and a half, has been promoted to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deputy director for operations. Kurth was chief of the Refuge System from October 2011 until January 2015, when he was named to the deputy director position vacated by Rowan Gould. Gould retired in December 2014 after a distinguished 38-year career with the Service.

Before becoming chief, Kurth was deputy chief for 12 years. His 15-year tenure in refuge leadership marked unprecedented growth in which the Refuge System added more than 60 new units encompassing more than 50 million acres. Beginning in 2011, Kurth led development and implementation of Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation – a blueprint for the future growth and management of the Refuge System.

“Jim Kurth is a natural leader with proven ability to effectively manage far-flung operations and meet complex conservation challenges. He understands how to multiply resources, and inspire and engage people. Most importantly, Jim loves the Service, its employees and its partners,” Service Director Dan Ashe said in announcing Kurth’s promotion. “I’m excited to work with Jim to continue improving the agency and strengthening our landscape-level collaborations with state wildlife agencies and other key partners.”

As deputy director for operations, Kurth will promote and implement the Service’s mission and priorities throughout the United States and abroad by developing and strengthening partnerships with other federal agencies and foreign governments, states, tribes, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector. He will also assist Director Ashe in ensuring agency performance and accountability, customer service and consistent application of all Service resource management policies.

Kurth will be responsible for managing the day-to-day implementation of the Service’s field-based mission. This includes overseeing an appropriated budget of $2.5 billion, and nearly 9,000 employees working across the nation and in many foreign countries. These employees spearhead efforts to conserve the nation’s native fish, wildlife and plants on 562 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts encompassing more than 560 million acres in all 50 states and U.S. territories; operate 69 national fish hatcheries; and administer fish and wildlife programs, including endangered species recovery, from 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field offices nationwide.

Kurth is a 35-year Service veteran and a career federal employee. He began his Refuge System career in 1979 at Mississippi SandhiIl Crane National Wildlife Refuge. He then moved on to a series of positions with progressively greater responsibilities at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee Refuge in Florida, Bogue Chitto Refuge in Louisiana, Seney Refuge in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Ninigret Refuge in Rhode Island.

Beginning in 1994 until he became deputy chief, Kurth managed the 20-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska – the largest wildlife refuge in the United States. Arctic Refuge also contains the 8-million-acre Mollie Beattie Wilderness Area, the largest wilderness within the Refuge System. During his time there, Kurth proved adept at bringing competing interests together and navigating complex environmental challenges affecting one of the nation’s most prominent refuges.

Cynthia Martinez, who has been deputy chief of the Refuge System, will serve as acting chief until Kurth’s replacement is selected.





February 2015



!Because of the the weather "Audubon At Home" has been rescheduled for March 21st!

Audubon At Home

Wondering what it takes to attract birds to your garden? Let Audubon PA show you how to create your own backyard habitat for wildlife using six simple principles that lead to better ecological address and a greener "you. " Judith Acker will present the program "Audubon At Home" at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge Saturday, February 21st at 6:30PM. Call 814-789-3585 to register.



Trash to Treasure Contest 2015

Originally created as part of a Summer Fest with a "Recycle" theme, this contest was so popular that we made it an annual event. This contest is for "kids" of all ages. There are award categories for 8 & Under, Ages 9-12, Ages 13-16, and 17+.

Entrants are encouraged to "Rescue some trash from the recycling bin or the garbage and make it into something pretty or useful. Bring it to the refuge to display and maybe win a cash prize." The rules stipulate that the major component of each entry should be something previously used that would normally be thrown away or recycled after they are used.

Each year we receive more entries and they are amazing in their diversity and imagination. Entries must be delivered to the Erie National Wildlife Refuge's headquarters building and they will be displayed there and at Summer Fest. More details coming soon.



ENWR’s Nature Photo Contest

2015 is the year for the Erie National Wildlife Refuge’s Biannual Nature Photo Contest, so all you amateur photographers out there should warm up your cameras and get ready. More information will be coming soon.



President Requests $1.6 Billion in Fiscal Year 2016 for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 discretionary budget request supports $1.6 billion in programs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an increase of $135.7 million over the 2015 enacted level.

“Investing in the conservation of our wildlife and habitat resources results in myriad health and economic benefits to U.S. communities,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Investing in the next American generation is also critical, so we are creating new ways to engage young audiences in outdoor experiences, both on wildlife refuges and partner lands. With 80 percent of the U.S. population currently residing in urban communities, helping urban dwellers to rediscover the outdoors is a priority for the Service.”

This budget invests in the science-based conservation and restoration of land, water and native species on a landscape scale, considering the impacts of a changing climate; expansion and improvement of recreational opportunities — such as hunting, fishing and wildlife watching — for all Americans, including urban populations; increased efforts to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, which is an international crisis; and the operation and maintenance of public lands.

America’s Great Outdoors – This initiative, a Service priority, seeks to empower all Americans to share the benefits of the outdoors, and leave a healthy, vibrant outdoor legacy for generations to come. In 2016, a total of $1.5 billion in current funding is proposed for the Service as part of the Administration’s initiative to reconnect Americans to the outdoors while developing a landscape level understanding of a changing climate. This includes $1.3 billion for Service operations, an increase of $119.2 million over the 2015 enacted level.

A critical component of America’s Great Outdoors is the National Wildlife Refuge System. Funding for the operation and maintenance of the Refuge System is requested at $508.2 million, an increase of $34 million above the 2015 enacted level. Included in that increase is an additional $5 million for the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, which will extend opportunities to engage more urban youth and adults.

The budget also requests $108.3 million for grant programs administered by the Service that support America’s Great Outdoors goals. Programs such as the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants are an important source of funds for the conservation and improvement of a range of wildlife and the landscapes on which they depend.

Land Acquisition – The 2016 Federal Land Acquisition program builds on efforts started in 2011 to strategically invest in the highest priority conservation areas through better coordination among Department of the Interior agencies and the U.S. Forest Service. This budget includes $164.8 million for federal land acquisition, composed of $58.5 million in current funding and $106.3 million in proposed permanent funding. The budget provides an overall increase of $117.2 million above the 2015 enacted level. An emphasis on the use of these funds is to work with willing landowners to secure public access to places to recreate, hunt and fish.

Cooperative Recovery – Species recovery is another important Service priority addressed in this budget. For 2016, the President requests a total of $10.7 million, an increase of $4.8 million over the enacted level, for cooperative recovery. The focus will be on implementing recovery actions for species nearing delisting or reclassification from endangered to threatened, and actions that are urgently needed for critically endangered species.

Ecological Services – The budget includes $258.2 million to conserve, protect and enhance listed and at-risk wildlife and their habitats, an increase of $32.3 million compared with the 2015 enacted level. These increases include a $4 million program increase to support conservation of the sagebrush steppe ecosystem, which extends across 11 states in the intermountain West. Conservation of this vast area requires a collaborative effort unprecedented in geographic scope and magnitude. To achieve sustainable conservation success for this ecosystem, the Service has identified priority needs for basic scientific expertise, technical assistance for on-the-ground support, and internal and external coordination, and partnership building with western states, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and other partners.

Additionally, the budget request contains a $4 million increase to ensure appropriate design and quick approval of important restoration projects that will be occurring in the Gulf of Mexico region in the near future. The Gulf of Mexico Watershed spans 31 states and is critical to the health and vitality of our nation’s natural and economic resources. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill dramatically increased the urgency of the Service’s work in the Gulf and our leadership responsibilities. Over the course of the next decade, billions of dollars in settlement funds, Clean Water Act penalties and Natural Resource Damage Assessment restitution will be directed toward projects to study and restore wildlife habitat in the Gulf of Mexico region. The Service is in high demand to provide technical assistance and environmental clearances for these projects, and this funding will ensure that this demand can be met.

To learn more about the President’s FY 2016 budget request for the Department of the Interior, visit: www.doi.gov/budget.



Fostering a New Generation Of Outdoor Enthusiasts

The newest Conserving the Future implementation team – the Outdoor Recreation Team – is developing a strategy to expand outdoor recreation on national wildlife refuges to fulfill Recommendation 18 (http://1.usa.gov/1yftGMA). The goal is to create a Refuge System recreation program that is relevant and accessible to all Americans in order to create a connected conservation constituency.

The team is chaired by Marcia Pradines, chief of the Division of Visitor Services and Communications; Will Meeks, assistant regional director for refuges in the Mountain-Prairie Region; and Charlie Blair, assistant regional director for refuges in the Midwest Region.

“The Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Recreation Team did a terrific job writing a strategic plan that will advance hunting and fishing on national wildlife refuges,” said Pradines. “This new team will focus on recreation that is both compatible to the wildlife conservation mission of refuges but also more accessible to ‘nature novices.’ This team is considering how to invite them to enjoy and care about wildlife, and help them become comfortable enjoying the great outdoors.”

The Outdoor Recreation Team is assembling four sub-teams, working to prepare draft products as early as July. The sub-teams are:

  • Recreation Access: The team will look at improving signs along highways and at other places that inform visitors and also research how transportation affects access. The team will consider how to streamline national guidance on accessibility, and calculate what it will cost in infrastructure investments to provide better access.

  • Appropriate Refuge Uses: The team will develop additional appropriate uses guidance to focus on activities that attract new and diverse audiences and encourage partnerships with communities. New guidance would not compromise the standard that all recreation must be compatible with a refuge’s conservation mission.

  • Wildlife Observation/Photography: In an era when so many people have great cameras in their smartphones, the team is seeking to establish a photography initiative. The team will expand online resources – and develop training and mentoring opportunities for refuge staff and volunteers – in an effort to provide the Refuge System’s photography offerings to a broader cross-section of the public.

  • Other Recreation: Going beyond the “Big Six” – hunting, fishing, wildlife photography, wildlife observation, interpretation and environmental education – the team will, among other tasks, assemble examples of the kind of expansive recreation offered on some wildlife refuges. It also will ensure that at least one outdoor skills center will be launched to help foster a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts.
The concept of outdoor skills centers came from the Conserving the Future Hunting, Fishing and Outdoor Recreation team, which last year issued its strategy (http://bit.ly/1vNt8dr). It called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to undertake steps to increase quality hunting and fishing opportunities. The team also recommended greater collaboration with state agencies in hunting and fishing programs; development of guidance for continuation of fish stocking programs and consideration of new stocking programs; and mentoring of a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts, among other steps.

The new Outdoor Recreation Team expects complete its work in about two years.





January 2015



Fish and Wildlife Service Requests Public Comment on Oil and Gas Rulemaking

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the opening of a 60-day comment period for public input on managing non-federal oil and gas development on National Wildlife Refuge System lands.

On many Service lands, including wildlife refuges, the federal government does not own the rights to subsurface minerals. Instead, mineral rights are owned by private individuals or other entities, which have the legal authority to develop their oil and gas resources.

Based on the Service’s best data, more than 200 refuges have oil and gas operations, including more than 5,000 wells, almost 1,600 actively producing oil and gas wells, and almost 1,300 miles of pipelines. 

The rulemaking effort is part of the Service’s ongoing commitment to avoid or minimize adverse effects on natural and cultural resources and wildlife-dependent recreation, ensure a consistent and effective regulatory environment for oil and gas operators, and protect public health and safety.

The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on February 24. Comments must be received on or before April 25. The Service will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. The Service cannot accept email or faxes.

Written comments and information can be submitted by one of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS–HQ–NWRS–2012–0086]; or U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS–HQ–NWRS–2012–0086]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

“Throughout the process, the Service will work with the public, the oil and gas industry and conservation groups to ensure we are using the best management practices and other industry standards for the conservation of fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats,” said Director Dan Ashe.

Since this is a formal rulemaking process with subsequent National Environmental Policy Act support, the Service anticipates the effort will take at least three years to complete.

Comments and materials, as well as supporting documentation, will be available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov under the above docket number. In addition, more details on the kinds of information the Service is seeking is available in the notice and will be posted online at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/oil-and-gas/






It’s More than A Duck Stamp. It’s a Champion for Conservation
By Dan Ashe, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It’s sometimes easy to lose hope these days, given the challenges our nation faces and the seemingly intractable political polarization of our society. But President Obama’s approval in December of bipartisan legislation raising the price of the federal Duck Stamp is a reminder that we’re still capable of great things as a nation.

The federal Duck Stamp program is one of the most successful conservation initiatives in history. Since the program’s creation in 1934, funding from Duck Stamp sales has been used to acquire and permanently protect more than 6 million acres of vital National Wildlife Refuge System habitat. Much of this wetland and grassland acreage – which supports hundreds of native species of migratory birds, animals and plants – would otherwise have been plowed under or paved over.

Rising land prices have steadily eroded our ability to protect other vulnerable habitat through acquisitions and the purchase of conservation easements on private land. Raising the price of the Duck Stamp from $15 to $25 will restore most of the purchasing power that has been lost since the price was last increased in 1991. With the additional funds generated by the increase, we anticipate being able to protect an estimated 17,000 additional acres of habitat every year.

This will also benefit Americans of all ages and backgrounds. All hunters 16 and older are required to possess a valid stamp, but anyone who cares about conservation can buy one. And what’s more, lands acquired and protected with Duck Stamp dollars are accessible to everyone – not just for hunting, but for wildlife watching, photography and other outdoor recreation. A valid Duck Stamp can also be used for free admission to scores of national wildlife refuges that charge admission fees.

Wetlands and associated uplands are as important for people as they are for wildlife. They provide natural protection against flooding and storm surges; filter pollutants from water used for drinking, cooking and sanitation; and support thousands of jobs and local businesses linked to outdoor recreation and tourism.

Perhaps most importantly, the Duck Stamp price increase represents an emphatic expression of optimism for the future. After all, the stamp itself was born out of far more desperate circumstances.

More than 80 years ago, at the height of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, our nation’s waterfowl and migratory birds faced devastation. Yet in the midst of ecological collapse, widespread poverty and unemployment, many Americans refused to give up. Led by hunters, they played an instrumental part in the passage of the Duck Stamp Act of 1934.

That success inspired passage of the Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, which created an excise tax on firearms and ammunition (later expanded to fishing rods, reels and equipment) that has raised more than $14 billion to support conservation at the state level. These historic conservation achievements laid the foundation for the return of healthy wildlife populations and habitat across the nation.

Hunting groups led efforts to raise the price of the stamp. Organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wildlife Refuge Association mobilized their members in support, and hunters across the nation contacted members of Congress to urge passage. That’s why this successful program continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress and the Executive Branch.

We face enormous conservation challenges in the coming decades and we must confront them as one nation, indivisible. The federal Duck Stamp shows us the way forward. Together, we can ensure that future generations of Americans have access to clean air, clean water and the wonder of our native wildlife and wild places.



More Than 113,000 Acres Conserved Last Fiscal Year

Fiscal Year 2014, which ended on September 30, 2014, saw some growth in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Refuge System established one new refuge -- Wapato Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon — in FY14 and added 113,403 acres, including 28,549 acres in fee title and 84,854 acres under easement or lease, at 78 national wildlife refuges and 26 wetland management districts, spanning 40 states. The total includes 74,435 acres conserved in the Prairie Pothole Region.

As of September 30, 2014, the Refuge System includes 562 national wildlife refuges, 209 waterfowl production area counties (managed by 38 wetland management districts), and 50 coordination areas, spanning more than 150 million acres. Refuge System staff also manage an additional 418 million acres of submerged lands and waters in four marine national monuments. The FY14 Statistical Data Tables for Lands Under Control of the Fish & Wildlife Service are available online at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/land/LandReport.html. 



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Upcoming Events

Board of Directors Meeting
April 20, 2015
6:30 PM
Refuge Headquarters Building
Guys Mills, PA


News Headlines

Summer Fest 2015 Trash to Treasure Contest

Rescue some trash from the recycling bin or the garbage...

ENWR Spring Clean Up Day

Spring is here and it's time to think about spring cleaning...



Friends of ENWR
c/o Erie National Wildlife Refuge
11296 Wood Duck Lane
Guys Mills, PA 16327
info@friendsofenwr.org