September 26th marks a decade since Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge opened

This Thursday, from 3:00-6:00, volunteers will be on hand at the Visitor’s Center at the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Zeugner Dr, Karnack, TX 75661, to share history of the refuge, and help direct them to interesting hikes, providing just cold water and interpretation/welcoming.

Background: September 26th marks a decade that the Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Karnack, Texas, has been open to the public.  Many elected officials at the local, state and federal level, as well as employees of their agencies, alongside local nonprofits and local people, all had a hand in the journey to opening this resource to the public.  In 1997 the decommissioning of the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant allowed the Caddo Lake Institute to lease significant lands at the plant to prove the ecological value of the site.  That resulted in an agreement for the transfer of ownership from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, creating the overlay Caddo Lake National Wildlife Refuge on October 19, 2000. The plant has been gradually conveyed to USFWS as as clean-up of the contamination of the areas of the lands were used by the Army of manufacturing explosives, and other munitions are completed. 

The Refuge Officially opened to the public on September 26th, 2009.  Open dawn to dusk, the public has access to:  a 6 mile auto tour route, and many more miles of road suitable for cycling; 6 hiking trails providing over 10 miles of trail; 9 miles of horseback trails; multiple bird blinds; the Visitor Center; Starr Ranch Pavillion; and a boat ramp for canoes and kayaks.  The Refuge also hosts white-tailed deer hunts and feral hog hunts. Included are opportunities for youths and hunters with disabilities. 

The Refuge purpose is the management, conservation, and protection of migratory birds and other fish and wildlife.  This bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem provides essential habitat for a diversity of migratory and resident wildlife species in Texas.   Caddo Lake NWR contains some of the best examples of mature flooded bald cypress forest in the United States and includes cypress trees nearly 400 years old.  The Caddo Lake wetlands also support one of the most diverse plant communities in Texas.    The wetlands of Caddo Lake are very important to migratory bird species within the Central Flyway.  The area supports one of the highest breeding populations of wood ducks, prothonotary warblers, and other birds in the United States.  With recent reports showing a steep decline in our nation’s birds, this key habitat is even more crucial.  Fish and Wildlife Service Water right, resulting from the Refuge designation, now helps protect flows into the Lake and thus habitat for many fish, bird, and vegetation species, including the state threatened paddlefish.

For more about visiting the refuge: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/caddo_lake/.  For more about how to volunteer to help at the refuge:  http://caddofriends.com/ or the Texas Master Naturalists at https://txmn.org/cypress/.  For more about the cleanup at LHAAP: http://www.longhornaap.com/. For more about the Caddo Lake Institute: www.caddolakeinstitute.org

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Viansa Winery Thirty Years Ago

By Deloris Munden

By Deloris Munden

About 30 years ago my technical writing company was a 7-day a week job. It was supposed to be my “retirement” job following my retirement from Uncle Sam. The one where you work a couple of days a week. In this case success was not a good thing.


In the meantime I saw an ad for a new winery nearby that featured 90 acres of wetlands, a deli and wine by the bottle. The name of the winery was Viansa and it was just too close to pass up.


My first trip there was everything the ad promised and more. The wetlands were filled with birds and migrations were fantastic. Wine, cheese and bread was good and I found myself turning away work so that I could visit the winery.


Eventually I was able to get Ron away from his office long enough to see the winery and he liked what he saw.


Bad move! Ron thought I should get a job there. No way. Most of you have been spared the experience of the Munden sales pitch. Ron can become the most nagging, in-your-face person you ever want to meet. I received multiple calls from him daily asking if I had scheduled an interview. He shoved and I would give in a bit. He would shove more and one day I found myself behind a wine tasting bar saying “Hello and welcome to Viansa.”


I must have been crazy.


That was my introduction into the Sonoma Valley wine experience. At the end of the day it was not uncommon for Sam Sebastiani to come in to the winery and share with us what he had been doing in the vineyard that day, the progress of the vines and fruit and to ask us what was selling and what was the feedback.


I couldn’t believe it. Sam’s father, Samueli, was the first generation Sebastiani in Sonoma and he was the driving force that helped Sonoma become what it is today.
What an incredible experience. It was a slow start. We would park our cars by the highway so people would think that we had a lot of visitors.


We started serving triple chocolate cookies with Cabernet Sauvignon which sent our sales soaring. 


And all the while Sam is planting and planting. Olive trees so we could make olive oil, focusing on Italian varietals and having staff meetings to keep us informed.


Ron visited Viansa last week and he said it is so lush and green with lots of visitors enjoying a glass of wine and the beautiful view of Sonoma Valley.


Thank you Ron for being a pest and pushing me into one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever had.

Travel Log: Greece 2019

By Ron Munden

30 May 2019: On June 11 my wife Deloris and I will be in Greece. This will be her first trip to Greece. I will be returning after 40 years. I know it was 40 years because:

The Three Mile Island Unit 2 reactor, near Middletown, Pa., partially melted down on March 28, 1979. This was the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history, although its small radioactive releases had no detectable health effects on plant workers or the public.

While this was happening in the United States, I was on a cruise ship that took me from the Canary Islands, into the Mediterranean and finally to Greece.

During that trip we visited many places but the place that still stands out in my mind is Mykonos. I have always felt I needed more time in the Greek Islands. That is what motivated me to book a return trip to Greece and the Aegean Islands. They say, “you can never go back – it is never as good the second time.” We are about to find out.

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