In April 1991, Richard Raup started volunteering at the Erie National Wildlife Refuge. He volunteered 388 hours in 1998 and his cumulative hours since 1991 totals 1,987 hours. He is currently involved in three projects on the 8,777-acre refuge.
Due to the nature of the terrain, signs, water control structures and a pier, all of the mowing at the refuge must be done with a walk-behind push mower. Using his own vehicle and gas to transport the push mower, Raup mows three nature trails totaling five miles. He also mows the six parking lots and two dikes, which total approximately five additional acres. He is also responsible for litter cleanup in parking lots and along the 22 miles of roads that transect the refuge.
Raup also assists with the saw-whet owl banding project. This project entails catching owls in mist nets to be aged, measured and banded. Data is reported to the Patuxent Bird Banding Laboratory to assist in learning about the owl's migration. Blood samples are taken and smears prepared from the captured owls to study parasite infestations. Raup contributes his time to this activity at night during the hours of 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
With only five permanent staff members to manage 8,777 acres, Eric National Wildlife Refuge is in great need of volunteers to help with various tasks. The time and labor that Raup contributes to the Refuge equals that of two or three volunteers. He performs these tasks to maintain a safe environment for refuge visitors and contribute to the conservation of natural resources and learning about saw-whet owls.