Last Updated: 5/25/22; Contributors: Jansher-A.;
Overall Website Observations: The Friends of Wertheim National Refuge is a group of people dedicated to the protection, preservation, and restoration of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. They help the refuge through workshops, educational programs, and a number of special events aimed at improving public awareness and the visitor/member experience.
Long Island Explorer Website Observations: The South Shore Estuary Reserve, which the park resource has concentrated efforts to preserve for over two decades, is a key habitat for migratory birds, amongst other natural species of animals and plants. The scenic Carmans River runs through this 2,550-acre habitat, and the Reserve’s natural beauty and allure create recreational and educational opportunities for nearby marginalized/vulnerable communities.
LI Geology & Plant Communities: Although the park resource emphasizes the conservation of native plants, I was unable to find any geological or plant-related keywords that returned any results in the search bar. There is a lack of specific and accessible information about the park’s geology and plant communities.
Freshwater Observations: Through some digging in the news tab, the website certainly identifies bodies of water within the park, particularly the aforementioned Carmans River. However, there isn’t a section for consolidated information about freshwater habitats or related conservation issues. The website does feature a news post stressing that urbanization negatively impacts the refuge’s freshwater habitats, but there are no specific details about the detrimental effects that urbanization has caused and why it is a concern for water quality and other such issues.
Trails, Greenways, & Sustainability: The website provides an online and downloadable annotated trail map with directions, hours, and grade/slope details for three featured trails under an easily accessible “Trail Maps” submenu. Furthermore, there is mention of a QR code to download an interactive guide map with more information about the park, but the code itself seems to have been removed from the website. The submenu also includes a bulleted list of park regulations for the trails as well as a Spanish translation of the map. There is a news article about proposals for the park to move towards zero waste, with initiatives such as restructuring for recycling, curbside composting, banning/reducing single-use plastics, and banning harmful landfills.
Wildlife Observations: Despite serving as a resource for a wildlife refuge, the website lacks content on the actual wildlife present in the park (even in keyword searches and news posts).
Marine Ecology Observations: Little to no information on marine life found within or impacted by the park.
Finances: The website offers various annual memberships, ranging from the “Painted turtle” membership for $20/year, which includes a gift of 1 pen from the park’s Nature Store, to the “Eagle” for $250/year, which is marketed towards corporate sponsors. However, the website states that online payment options are under construction without mention of a timeframe, and the alternative options of mailing a check or paying via cash at the Visitor Center are relatively dated and possibly inconvenient for interested donors. Furthermore, the website contains information about their Nature Store, located within the Visitor Center, and their selection of nature-related products featured serves as an additional source of funding for the park resource.
What Needs Improvement: Although this park resource is certainly comprehensive and well-designed, there is no navigation tab or submenu with details about specific wildlife found within the park. Consequently, there is a lack of accessible information regarding the animals which the refuge aims to protect and manage. Amending a page to highlight data about relevant wildlife, including photos of the animals in their natural habitats, could serve to allow website visitors to further appreciate the park and its dwellers.