St. Francis Sanctuary receives Red Acre Foundation grant

St. Francis Sanctuary and Wildlife Rehabilitation has recently received a $7,000 Red Acre Foundation (RAF) grant.

Located near Arboles, St. Francis is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation center whose current primary focus is the care, recovery and release of injured or ailing wild birds. Founder and Executive Director Pat Jackson created the sanctuary on approximately 160 acres in 2005, after realizing a need for local wildlife rehabilitators.

Red Acre Foundation of Stow, Mass., meanwhile, offers grants to 501(c)(3) organizations for humane and human/animal bond efforts, including spay/neuter; therapeutic riding; wildlife rescue and rehabilitation; equine and canine rescue; humane education and Humane Society projects. Grants range from $5,000 to $25,000, and are primarily extended to groups in areas of New England, Southwest Colorado and southern Arizona.

Jackson applied for the RAF grant as partial funding toward completion of a waterfowl enclosure planned for the sanctuary’s pond. The waterfowl project is the final component necessary in offering a full spectrum of rehab options available to wild birds that have become ill or injured. Designed as the quintessential human-built imitation of a natural riparian environment, it will include a running watercourse for migratory and indigenous species.

As a licensed rehabilitator by the State of Colorado and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jackson managed to complete a 6,800-square-foot flight aviary just last year. She and husband Rolly privately funded the $75,000 enclosure, which provides an area where even the largest raptors can exercise and gain strength before their eventual release back into the wild.

Jackson hopes to raise the balance of funding necessary to complete the waterfowl pen sometime in the coming months. Though plans aren’t definite, she intends to stage a few creative fund-raising activities, while pursuing additional grants and private donations.

At present, the St. Francis Sanctuary affords health and rehabilitation to injured and ailing birds. Jackson’s future plans, however, include expansion to accommodate domestic and exotic animals, especially wildlife, that have been abandoned, abused, injured, or orphaned.

With the aid of local veterinarians and an all-volunteer staff, birds and mammals will receive necessary care and permanent homes to live out their natural lives, free from neglect or other intolerable conditions. Upon successful rehabilitation, wild species will always be released to their natural habitat, hopefully to propagate their own kind and contribute to the maintenance of a balanced ecosystem.

Through Pat Jackson’s expanding knowledge, undying dedication, and continued training, the good work she’s already doing is making a difference in a natural world increasingly crowded by a sea of humanity. What the future holds for those delicate species living in the fringe of civilization is yet undecided, but we can certainly coexist with wildlife, particularly if we’re willing to set aside sufficient buffer zones … and support those who work tirelessly to assure their survival.

For true wildlife emergencies, to make a donation, or to offer in-kind materials or services, you can reach Pat Jackson and the St. Francis Sanctuary and Wildlife Rehabilitation by calling 946-7452 or 883-2519 (evenings). Their e-mail address is 2befree@centurytel.net.

chuck@pagosasun.com