Catherine Miller

New signs project completed

The BBNWR Society recently purchased and installed some new informational signs along one of the trails on the refuge. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Society. Your donations help fund projects like this one. Come on out to the refuge and take a look.

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New Press Release

Press Release
Contact: Richard Dyer
Phone: 757-721-3458

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Introduces Friends Group

Virginia Beach, VA – Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society has recently organized as the official Friend’s group in support of and as a partner with Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Refuge Friend’s groups are non-profit organizations comprised of dedicated community members who work to support their local national wildlife refuges, to help improve refuges for wildlife and people. Upcoming projects for the newly formed Society include installing and maintaining osprey platforms and the creation of a plant-identification walk along Back Bay NWR’s popular Raptor Trail.
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1938 as a refuge and sanctuary for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife. The Refuge located just south of Sandbridge in southeastern Virginia Beach, is open from dawn to dusk. More information can be found online at the BBNWR official webpage, the official Facebook page, or by calling the Refuge at 757-301-7329.
The BBNWR Society is currently seeking members who would like to join them in this new adventure. Please visit or for more information about the Society and free membership. The Society is looking forward to this new partnership and working with the community to meet shared conservation goals.
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society
1324 Sandbridge Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23456-4023

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Great blue herons are widely distributed throughout the continental United States, and they eat a wide variety of wetland prey near ponds, streams, lakes, rivers, marshes and coastlines, including frogs, snakes and, yes, fish.
Photo by Frank Miles/USFWS

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Sea Turtle update at Back Bay

Back Bay NWR’s first sea turtle nest of the season was found this morning!
We can see the female turtle’s distinct tracks coming out of and returning to the ocean. This turtle crossed over her incoming tracks when she made her way back out to the water.
A cage has been placed over the nest to protect the eggs while they incubate. The eggs will develop over the next two months and will hatch approximately 60 days from today. We will keep the updates coming when more nests are found!
What a great way to celebrate #OceanMonth2020!

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New Osprey family

June 15 at 9:31 AM ·
Have you seen this?!
A new osprey nest platform was installed across from the refuge fishing dock by the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society in late winter.
We are very excited to see that a pair of osprey have recently taken to the nest. Check it out on your next visit! This platform is visible from the large parking area, fishing dock and the deck of the Visitor Center.

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BBNWR Society Annual Report for 2019

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society
1324 Sandbridge Road * Virginia Beach, VA * 23456

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society, 2019 Annual Report

The 4,589 acre Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (BBNWR) was created by Presidential proclamation in 1938 to provide resting and feeding habitat for dwindling migratory bird populations along the historic Atlantic Flyway. As impactful human practices continued, the BBNWR further expanded through the 1990s to its present day 9,250 acres. The Refuge, part of the US Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service has not always had the resources to meet expansion, wildlife, and community needs.

National Wildlife Refuges have historically relied on volunteers to help meet their enormous conservation needs; however, they could not perform fundraising and other tasks, more suited to independent non-profits. In the 1980s the Fish and Wildlife Service created a formal organizational structure called “Friends” groups. These supporters aid 280 of its 568 Refuges and wetlands management districts. Since their inception, some 40,000 individuals belong to 185 Friends groups nationwide. The groups have taken great pride in raising more than $15 million and have volunteered tens of thousands of hours toward conservation projects.

In 2019, the BBNWR recognized the benefits that Friends groups could bring to wildlife and the community. Subsequently, Refuge Manager Doug Brewer; Deputy Refuge Manager Kathryn Owens; and Visitor Services Specialist Erica Ryder, solicited passionate Refuge volunteers with Back Bay conservation focus, to discuss the formation of a Friends group. The Refuge staff, Refuge advocate Molly Brown, and the team of volunteers, some having as many as six decades of conservation and related professional experience, convened to discuss forming a Friends organization. The group recognized the need and work began to create the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society (BBNWRS).

Founding Board Members:

Richard Dyer, President
Former Broadcast Engineer, City of Virginia Beach
Former President/Board Member Back Bay Restoration Foundation; Volunteer BBNWR

Marjorie Thompson, Vice President
Retired Federal Law Enforcement
Volunteer BBNWR

Barry L Kurzer DDS, Treasurer
Retired General Dentist
Volunteer BBNWR

Catherine Miller, Secretary
Former Life Science Teacher
Volunteer BBNWR

Charlie Ellin, Board of Directors
Retired Naval Officer
Volunteer BBNWR; Board Member Back Bay Restoration Foundation

Daniel Ford, Board of Directors
Insurance Agent Farmers; Former Merchant Mariner
Environmental Conservationist

Clarence Keel, Board of Directors
Former: President Seaboard Savings Bank, VA Beach; Senior Vice President BB&T; President, Hampton Roads Region, Community Bank of Stanton
Volunteer BBNWR

Reese Lukei, Board of Directors
Retired CPA
Licensed bird banding/raptor specialist, Research Assistant Center for Conservation Biology; Trails Advocate; Volunteer BBNWR

Mission and Vision:
Mission: To conserve, protect, and enhance natural resources; through advocacy, outreach, education, fundraising, and projects for the betterment of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Vision: A sustainable Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge that is responsive to diverse native wildlife and habitat maintained in a healthy ecosystem as a contributing link in the migration chain of the Atlantic Flyway

The initial creation of a non-profit organization requires a tremendous amount of administrative and professional resources. As such, most of our 2019 initiatives were dedicated to establishing a solid Society foundation. The following were Society milestones:

• Created the Society mission and vision statements
• Instituted the founding Board of Directors and Officers
• Wrote BBNWRS Articles of Incorporation and reviewed by volunteer attorney Sherri Crawford
• Wrote BBNWRS Bylaws and reviewed by volunteer attorney Sherri Crawford
• Obtained Federal Employee Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS
• Established a bank account
• Applied for and received IRS 501(c)3 tax exempt status
• Filed incorporation and certificate of solicitation documents with the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
• Filed incorporation and solicitation documents with the City of Virginia Beach, Commissioner of Revenue office
• Created Society logo by volunteer Jeff White, Creative Director, Salvation Design Co.
• Sought Board donations and created financial templates
• Created Facebook page -
• Created website by volunteer Kevin Jonas, Jonas Marketing which includes volunteer and donation features
• Developed strategic plans with diverse goal categories: biology, outreach, projects, environmental education, and fundraising

The Society received donations totaling $1,349 in 2019. Donations consisted of monetary donations of $1,250 and in-kind donations of $99. Disbursements in 2019 totaled $374. These expenses consisted of: administrative costs $350, web services cost $24, the State Solicitation filing fee $107.35, and bank fees of $62.96. As of December 31, 2019, the Society had assets of $804.69 with no outstanding liabilities.
Near-term Goals:
The Society created near-term 2020 goals from its strategic plan and goals reviews. While ambitious, meeting these goals will be in part dependent on donations, volunteer support, and the COVID-19 restrictions.

Near-term goals include:

• Plant identification placards
• Pollinator/butterfly garden
• Publish periodic e-newsletters
• Expand membership
• Creation and distribution of Society brochure
• Establish a donation box at the Refuge
• Osprey nesting platforms maintenance, construction, and installation
• Native plant integration
• Aquatic vegetation planting
• Dune grass planting
• Hold an annual public meeting

The initiatives represent a small portion of potential projects the Board has identified. Donors, members, and volunteer supporters will be paramount in determining the extent of our success in accomplishing these near-term goals.

All told, the Board and volunteers contributed 954 hours in 2019. Without paid staff, the Society relies completely on its supporters and owes each much gratitude. We are proud to be part of the Society and its initial accomplishments, dedicated volunteers, capable Refuge leadership, and most importantly its mission.

Respectfully submitted,
Richard Dyer, President Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society

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Winter Tram Tours

The Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge has added a schedule for its Winter Tram Tours.

Sunday, Feb. 2nd @1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 16th @1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 1st @1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 15th @1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 29th @1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

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