Our April program will be about the 9,225 acre Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge. Lost Trail is a breathtakingly beautiful area nestled in Pleasant Valley in Northwestern Montana. The refuge was established in 1999 as the 519th refuge in the National Wildlife Refuge System of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Established for migratory birds, the refuge’s restored glacial lake, numerous wetlands and riparian corridors, uplands dominated by prairie grasses and scattered large ponderosa pines, as well as other temperate forested areas, provide habitat for a wealth and abundance of wildlife species.
Beverly Skinner, US Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist will start her talk with the early history of Pleasant Valley and will then introduce some of the amazing wildlife that call the refuge home. Some refuge species like the boreal toad are in decline. Others such as the Trumpeter Swan and grizzly bear are on the slow road to recovery. Many common refuge species such as the huge flocks of male Mountain Bluebirds in the spring, dancing Sandhill Cranes in the wet meadows, and the sounds of wolves howling and elk bugling in the fall are what make this refuge special. Lost Trail NWR even has a federally threatened plant – Spalding’s Catchfly. Lastly, Beverly will talk about some of the current biological studies being conducted on the refuge, as well as the major three-mile county road movement which starts this spring.
Beverly was introduced to the natural world by her Missouri Ozark wildcrafter grandmother when she was eight. She also gave Beverly her first bird book. Beverly graduated from the University of Missouri with a BS and MS in Wildlife Management and then married Bob, another wildlife biologist finishing up his PhD. Her federal career started with the USDA Forest Service in the Missouri Ozarks working on birds and endangered plants. She then spent time as a Land Operations Specialist with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Next, she took 10 years off to work as a full-time mom to their three unique and talented kids– the best job ever! The next move was to interior Alaska where Bob and Beverly both worked as wildlife biologists on the 3.8 million acre Innoko National Wildlife Refuge for 13+ years. When it became necessary for Beverly to become a long distance caregiver to parents on the east coast, they returned to the lower 48 for jobs at Charles M Russell NWR. After 11 years in central Montana and a husband ready to retire after 35 years of federal service, Beverly was offered an opportunity to transfer to Lost Trail NWR in 2013. Her personal plans are to remain at Lost Trail NWR until official retirement age, which means at least four more years of the second best job ever!
Please join us on at 7 PM on Monday, April 11. We’ll meet in the United Way Conference Room at the Gateway Community Center on US Highway 2 West in Kalispell. The Conference Room is accessed from the parking lot on the west side of the Center. Just look for the lighted Flathead Audubon banner.