The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

Welcome back. Located in Oklahoma’s Osage County, Osage Hills State Park was built in 1937 during the depression era by the Civilian Conservation Corps as were several other parks around the State. The park was created by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who decreed that the land not be developed but set aside for the enjoyment of mankind. Here in Rockport, Texas I’ve found another preserve that President Roosevelt had the vision to establish and a truer gift you’ll have a hard time finding.

The Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was first named the Blackjacks in the 1880s by Europeans who had an early settlement in the area. Prior to their settlement the Karankawa Indians had lived there but the tribe was almost completely killed off fighting for their ancestral land against Texas cattlemen in the 1850s.  This area was also home to the legendary pirate Jean Lafitte who plundered many Spanish ships full of gold and legend has it hid it in what is now the refuge.

This wildlife refuge is on a peninsula which sticks out into the Gulf of Mexico and is part of a long chain of land forming a barrier island which is home to an amazing number of wildlife species. Sea turtles, alligators, deer and coyotes all live here but what draws the most visitors at this time of year is the whooping crane, a bird that was almost extinct in 1941 when there were only 15 birds remaining. These magnificent birds have made somewhat of a comeback thanks to the generosity of wealthy philanthropists and the donations of common men and women all of whom have made it possible to purchase additional land for the refuge in an effort to expand the cranes’ winter habitat. Yes friends, just like a visit to the Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie, on a road trip to this preserve you never know what you might see.

I’ll end this week where I left off last week with the question of the legacy we leave in life. Paul Endacott, the Phillips man I highlighted last week left his own. My late friends brothers Bill and Don Creel, both of whom I’ve written about in the past, left theirs through community involvement as did Don Cone, the longtime Woolaroc docent who never met a stranger.

The famous musician Bruce Springsteen. recently wrote that what people leave behind are like dreams to him. He often sees the faces of people who have been important to him and not just when he’s sleeping but whenever something reminds him of them. Now if part of your legacy is that people still envision you after your death than I’m with Bruce because I can still see the faces of people who made a difference to me in my dreams as well.

The great Bartlesville architect Derry Ebert, a man who also served three times as Board President at the YMCA. Mike May, another early Y guy who also served on many other Boards for organizations benefiting the town. John F. and Dick Kane who did so many good things for the community we may never know the extent of all of them. There are dozens more, some who have been gone for years and some like Don Cone and Frederick Drummond have only recently died but I can see them all in my dreams. It may be my legacy that I keep these people alive through my writing, so, what is your legacy? That is something only you can determine.

Till next time, I’ll see ya down the road …………

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