Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
Ottawa's Best Friends: Brother Duo
The enthusiasm is unmistakable when you hear Chris and Mike Crofts talk about Ottawa NWR. Their association with the refuge spans over two decades and now they are preparing to spread that enthusiasm among a bigger batch of refuge volunteer recruits. The Crofts brothers are spearheading the effort to a form a new citizen support group for the refuge that will be known as Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.
Excited by a phenomenal 41-person turnout at an exploratory first meeting, the Crofts are busy with the paperwork necessary to formally organize other meetings.
Mike says that anything the new group can do will be helpful, but he and Chris hope that one of the long-range results will be a refuge visitor center on State Route 2 where thousands of travelers pass daily.
"Education will be the key" to the group's success says Mike, who adds that refuges are all over but they are mostly taken for granted.
Refuge manager Martin believes a roster of 500 members can be quickly compiled while interest in the group runs high.
The affinity the Crofts have for the outdoors came at any early age. They started out as hunters with their father who hunted ducks. But their uncle Robert Crofts, a pre-eminent birder in Ohio, was a greater influence. The boys decided that hunting was not for them when they learned that finding bird species was not dependent on carrying a gun or on hunting seasons. Finding 250 species a year is the norm now, reports Mike Crofts.
Besides conducting a refuge bird census every first Sunday of the month, the Crofts have maintained wood duck boxes, cut grass, checked tags on Canada geese, led bird walks and owl hoots, and managed a predator-free common tern nest project.
Mike's enthusiasm has spilled over to his teenage sons. They volunteer, too.
No, the Crofts are not retired persons. They find time to make a living. They do so as the owners and managers of a highly regarded pet shop in suburban Toledo.
From I-280 in Toledo, exit 7 to OH-2 east, 15 miles to refuge entrance on left.
For more information, contact Ottawa NWR, 14000 West State Route 2, Oak Harbor, OH 43449, 419-898-0014.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication