I have been visiting the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma for over 15 years now in my role as a wildlife photographer. In that time, I have developed a deep appreciation for this special place and the refuge staff that works so hard to maintain it.

No matter the weather or season, the refuge remains a place of serene natural beauty. However, I know firsthand that keeping it that way takes immense dedication behind the scenes. The refuge has endured its fair share of natural disasters, like the devastating flood that occurred here several years ago. I was amazed at how quickly the staff reopened the refuge after such chaos. Though the effects still linger, their commitment never wavered.

On a daily basis, the refuge crew faces unpredictable challenges from the very wildlife they protect. I’ve witnessed the damage from invasive wild hogs and industrious beavers, which can ruin crops and clog water valves. There is also the constant battle against invasive plant species. And let’s not forget about the large fallen trees after storms that staff remove before sunrise so visitors like me can enjoy the auto tour road and the trails.

Most people who come here only see the final product of the refuge staff’s diligence. But as an early riser and frequent visitor, I’m privy to the tremendous upkeep that takes place behind the scenes. It has given me immense respect for the refuge employees. Operating a thriving wildlife refuge is complicated work, yet they handle every new obstacle with care and persistence.

After over 15 years returning to this special refuge, I’m still in awe of its natural splendor. But I’m equally impressed by the people who work tirelessly to maintain this unique oasis for both wildlife and humans. My hat’s off to the devoted staff that has taught me so much about hard work, passion, and doing what it takes to preserve slices of nature as they are meant to be.

Steve Creek and the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge New Sign

Steve Creek and the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge New Sign – Photo By Mia McPherson