This summer has been a very exciting time to be a Ranger at Occoneechee State Park. We have had the opportunity to partner with the Staunton- Meherrin Chapter of the NWTF on a habitat improvement project. The idea of a partnership between Occoneechee State Park and the NWTF started with humble beginnings in August of 2018.
One of our seasonal maintenance staff had some trouble with his vehicle after work one day. The seasonal employee called his grandfather, Robbie Moody, to come pick him up. When Mr. Moody arrived to pick up his grandson our Chief Ranger, Alex Qualls, went out to the parking lot to introduce himself and thank the grandfather for coming to pick up the employee. While making conversation Chief Ranger Qualls, who at the time had only been working with State Parks for about seven days, mentioned that he would love to partner with a group in the community to do some wildlife habitat improvement in the park. To Chief Ranger Qualls’s surprise Mr. Moody then introduced himself as The Staunton-Meherrin Chapter President of the NWTF and said he would be willing to work with us on a project. Chief Ranger Qualls put a “SuperFund” proposal together for Occoneechee and it was presented at the annual “NWTF Superfund Committee Meeting” in January of 2019. The Superfund request was approved, giving us $4,000 in funding for resource management here at Occoneechee State Park. Chief Ranger Qualls received an invitation to attend the annual chapter banquet In Chase Case City where he presented Mr. Moody with partnership signs that were placed at each of the wildlife habitat improvement areas in the park. However, we did not stop there, an “NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsmen dove hunt, which is an event for handicap sportsmen, was held on Saturday September 14 at Occconeechee State Park. The dove hunt consisted of five hunters and several volunteers. It was very successful and plans are already being made to have more NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsmen events at Occoneechee.
Park Staff are also currently collaborating with DGIF to start an archery program at Occoneechee. Chief Ranger Qualls Submitted a grant request to DGIF for $2,349.88 to purchase the equipment needed to start this new educational program at Occoneechee. Chief Ranger Qualls has also looked at other archery programs in and outside of state parks to get ideas for our new program. If we are chosen to receive the grant money work will begin on putting together a new archery program and getting employees trained right away.