A Rustic Rehab

Two dozen Dominion Energy volunteers worked to restore Presquile National Wildlife Refuge to its natural state.

Russell Deane and Bob Post knew the federal government could use some help at Presquile National Wildlife Refuge. At the time, the two Dominion Energy engineers just didn’t realize how much.

Two years ago, they talked with Wildlife Refuge Specialist Cyrus Brame and developed a plan to build a rainwater collection and containment system at a shed on the Refuge. The water then could be directed to an irrigation system for a nursery that is being used to develop native trees — part of ongoing efforts to restore the Refuge to its natural state.

Plans were proceeding apace. And then came a ferocious storm in February 2017.

The extreme winds of the storm ripped the roof from the building. That meant installing a new roof before the rainwater and irrigation systems could be built — all of which required a great deal of planning and logistical organization.

“Since it’s on an island, you can’t just put down your tools and run to Lowe’s,” says Deane. Every tool, every piece of equipment, every piece of material and every volunteer had to get to the Refuge by boat.

In September, they got it all done — with the help of a $5,000 grant from Dominion Energy and around two dozen volunteers. When asked how many hours went into the project, Deane and Post laugh. “Well north of 400 man-hours,” Deane estimates. “Hundreds of hours,” Post agrees.

The challenges they confronted at Presquile haven’t quenched their thirst for volunteer work. “We had a lot of fun doing this project,” Deane says, “and are hoping to do a few more if we can get some more people involved.”