Nature Store on refuge gets new owner - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Nature Store on refuge gets new owner

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

WICHITA MOUNTAINS WILDLIFE REFUGE, OK (KSWO) - The Friends of the Wichitas celebrated their transition to being the full-time operators of the Nature Store on the wildlife refuge on Sunday. The store is located at the visitor’s center at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. It used to be under an outside company's control for 30 years.

Now, the Friends of the Wichitas, a volunteer organization that serves the refuge, is in charge.

Jim Stone, president of the organization, says the store pumps a lot of money back to the refuge. He explains how under their watch the refuge will see more of that money because his organization is made up of all volunteers. So no money will go toward operational costs of an outside company.

He knows that funding has been cut for the refuge in recent years.

"There is a number of issues facing Tony Booth, the refuge manager, and his staff in maintaining this refuge,” said Stone. “They really have their work cut out for them. Not only to maintain this environment, but also to make sure that you, I and anyone who visits has an enjoyable, safe and ideally an educational time while they are here."

The organization recently raised enough money to be able to take over this responsibility.

The new ownership was needed though. Stone says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently said outside ownership of these types of stores are not allowed.

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