Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is dedicated to the conservation of species in peril, conducting scientific research, training of professionals, responsible management of natural resources, and public education. Through these activities, we provide a diversity of compelling learning experiences that inspire positive change in the way people think, feel and act towards nature.
As you read Fossil Rim Wildlife Center’s Mission Statement, you will notice that there are five primary components paraphrased as: 1) conserving wildlife species in peril, 2) conservation education, 3) research, 4) professional training, AND 5) responsible natural resources management.
If you have visited Fossil Rim or plan to do so in the future, you no doubt enjoyed or will enjoy seeing the wildlife species that through and with your support, we work to conserve. And, within an environment that provides the animals an opportunity to live in ‘near-natural’ conditions.
We often say; this place, the land, will be here long after us and the animals with which we work. And with this realization, we have the responsibility to do all we can to be good stewards of all things natural, ensuring to the best of our means and ability, that the natural beauty and resources of this place are protected and balanced with all of Fossil Rim’s activities. How do we do this across Fossil Rim’s 1,800 acres? A very tall order as everything we do has an impact on the natural world around us and for the purpose of this article; we will focus on the land itself.
The following are a few brief examples:
• While providing ample viewing opportunities for our conservation partners (our visitors) on the scenic tour route, maintain some balance of animal numbers and species in relation to resources such as forage
• Provide areas with moderate or no impact from managed species programs other than for native wildlife – equalizing/moderating the overall footprint
• Offer conservation education programming that includes natural resource management, reaching thousands of students and adults each year
• Initiate or participate in research projects aimed at discovering new ways to protect our natural resources such as a joint Tarleton State University/Fossil Rim pasture assessment project and through a Conservation Centers for Species Survival cooperative project studying invasive plants
• Teach natural resource management concepts during professional training programs such as internships
• Strive for best practices in all agricultural activities such as hay harvesting – utilizing onsite-generated soil amendments (compost produced from the many animals) and conducting soil analysis to make best decisions when fertilizer applications are required for forage production
• Identify and catalogue plant species onsite
• Practice soil erosion mitigation
• Implement water retention
We know enough about our natural resources to realize we don’t know everything about how our animal management impacts our natural ecosystems. Through programs and projects like the ones listed above, we are learning more every day. These discoveries help us in making an effort to better balance what we do with where we live.
By Kelley Snodgrass (COO) and Curt Decker (Natural Resources Management Specialist)
May 15, 2014