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Summer intern Julia Rosa of Portsmouth, N.H., explains how she used Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to scan in a 1939 map that shows where trees were planted on what is now the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

Vintage maps give glimpse into refuge's past

Julia Rosa has learned more about the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge during her three-month summer internship than most people have in a lifetime.

Even longtime U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees like Deputy Refuge Manager Ralph Bryant say they've gained new knowledge and insights from her research.

The New Hampshire native recently earned her bachelor's degree in environmental science from Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, Va. Rather than return home to live with her mother and brothers and likely end up working in a restaurant, she chose to come here and volunteer her services at the refuge. She'd hiked here before and had also read about its opportunities for volunteering.

Rosa had had a one-semester class in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the only course Lynchburg had on the subject, and she has learned more since starting her work in mid-May.

The basement of Refuge Headquarters is a storehouse of maps dating to the early 1900s, when the refuge was the Wichita Forest Reserve. Among those are photocopies that Rob Wood, a former assistant fire management officer here, brought back from the National Archives in Fort Worth, Texas.

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