As part of a nationwide program to learn more about how the public uses and benefits from visits to National Wildlife Refuges, a team of two interns lived on Eastern Neck Island for two weeks in August to survey visitors. Denisse Camarena, 23, and Natalia Swietek, 22, stayed in the Cape Chester House, also known as the “Bunkhouse,” next to the Butterfly Trail. The survey program is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which oversees the National Wildlife Refuge System; the Ohio State University; and the non-profit American Conservation Experience.
The survey, conducted on a rotating basis every five years at refuges that draw at least 50,000 visitors annually, was taken by approximately 200 visitors to Eastern Neck during the interns’ assignment. They were asked which activities bring them to the refuge and what they particularly enjoyed. Data is used to judge which populations are using – or under-utilizing – refuges. Visitors from as far away as Japan and Sweden traveled to the island during the interns’ stay.
FOEN has spearheaded recent improvements and maintenance at the Bunkhouse, which served as the refuge headquarters in the past when the Lodge was being renovated.