GroupThis morning, December 4, 2014, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge celebrated a great collaborative effort – the construction of the awesome Willow Lakes Boardwalk. This project was done with the cooperation of USFWS staff, Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, United Airlines Foundation, and a great team of volunteers.

The original boardwalk was damaged in the floods of Hurricane Dolly in 2010. This project started in the fall of 2012 with initial funding of $25,000 to buy beams and decking. In the fall of 2013 USFWS as well as volunteers and Friends of the Wildlife Corridor pushed through to get the job done!

$10,000 of USFWS station funds came from Santa Ana NWR’s sister refuge, the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR.

The Friends applied for a $5,000 grant, which was awarded by United Airlines Foundation to buy hardware that is holding together the boardwalk.

Construction began in the fall of 2013 under the leadership of one of our talented maintenance staff, Alex Garcia. Alex led a team of four core volunteers dedicated entirely to the project. Alex coordinated the efforts of other staff and volunteers.

Volunteers on the project included Mike Lownsberry, Dean Synder, Doug Hewitt, Rick Ramke, Reggie Etherige, Larry Segur, Joe Southerland, Sheila Parsons, Pam Snyder, and the United Airlines team.

Maintenance staff on the project included Alex Garcia, Art Tovar, Charles Walton, Ruben Cavazos, Zeno Arevalo, and Imer de la Garza.

Administrative staff on the project included Roy Reyna and Juan Long.

Volunteers invested over 2,000 hours! This equals a net value of $46,800.  The construction took approximately four months plus many months of planning.

This project was completed safely, without incidents.

The  boardwalk is solid, meets state code, and will be enjoyed by many Santa Ana NWR visitors of today and tomorrow.untitled-16