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Thursday, October 11, 2012

National Wildlife Refuge Week

Visit Your National Wildlife Refuges: October 14-20, 2012


Treat yourself with a visit to a national wildlife refuge during National Wildlife Refuge Week, from October 14-20. Celebrate America’s wildlife heritage, and see what wildlife refuges are doing to conserve it.

“National wildlife refuges play a crucial role in conserving America’s wildlife legacy,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Refuges also play important roles in human communities. By providing healthy habitats for wildlife, refuges improve the air we breathe and the water we drink, improve soil quality and give protection against flooding in flood-prone areas. Jobs and businesses in local communities rely on refuges – and the visitors they attract. Refuges offer glorious and protected places to hunt, fish, hike and share the outdoors with a new generation.”

Visitors to refuges like what they find there, according to a study this year by the U.S. Geological Survey. About 90 percent of the survey’s 10,000 adult participants reported satisfaction with refuge recreation, information and education, public service and conservation. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife,” offered one respondent. “Visiting a refuge is truly a spiritual experience.”

Among the most popular activities for 45 million refuge visitors last year were wildlife viewing, bird watching, photography, hiking and auto-tour-route driving.

Since Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has become the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing 150 million acres in 556 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

National wildlife refuges also offer world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation along 2,500 miles of land and water trails to photography and environmental education. 

National Wildlife Refuge Week Highlights

Check the special events calendar for Refuge Week events. Among the events planned:  

Saturday, October 13:
Halloween Adventure: The Wild Night Life of the Refuge. Enjoy an afternoon and evening of family fun and learning about animals that are active at night, including bats, owls and coyotes. Pre-registration is required: 701/442-5474 ext. 117
Join the refuge’s Refuge Week celebration at Doeskin Ranch. Butterfly tagging and butterfly walks are among planned activities.
Enjoy a “Ride the Refuge” tour. The eight-mile auto tour begins at Eagle Bluff Access Area and finishes at refuge headquarters.
Take a guided canoe tour along the Old Cache Channel. Meet: Cache Levee Access.
For reservations, call (618) 634-2231, beginning September 13.
Enjoy an open house for National Wildlife Refuge Week.
Learn about the remarkable gray fox and how it differs from other foxes.  Take a walk to observe its habitat. Good walking shoes recommended.
See live birds of prey. Enjoy a day of family events including guided hikes, fishing and hands-on nature program for youth.
Celebrate with a morning 5k Run/Walk, followed by activities throughout the day.
Visit the Chesser Island Homestead to discover how people lived in Southeast Georgia when the Refuge System was established. See the refuge website for more information.
Enjoy live animals, kids’ crafts, tram tours ($3), scientific demonstrations and behind-the-scenes research tours of the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. See where endangered whooping cranes and sea ducks are raised and studied.
Meet your “wild” neighbors at this free event celebrating National Wildlife Refuge Week. Enjoy a variety of wildlife activities and booths, arts and crafts, and nature films for all ages. Preview the new nine-mile Wildlife Drive, a self-guided auto tour route.
Enjoy the annual “Wild Things in Lacombe” festival. This large annual event at the Bayou Lacombe Centre celebrates all things wild. 

Sunday, October 14:
Scores of refuges will once again host The Big Sit!, an annual event in which teams count and report bird species seen or heard from a 17-foot-diameter circle. Participating refuges include: 
Tubby Cove Observation Platform, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Endicott Observation deck, sunrise to sunset
Near trailhead parking lot, dawn to dusk
Near the lighthouse, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dawn until dusk
Champion Lake Pier, sunrise to sunset  

Saturday, October 20:
Attend a Refuge Day event at Three Sisters Springs. Enjoy live music, birding boat tours, a whooping crane kite show, wildlife puppets and drums caravan, educational booths, crafts and interpretive tours.
Attend an open house at the refuge on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Take a guided bird hike in ancient rainforest habitat. View forest restoration planting sites. Take a tour of the greenhouse where native koa, ohia and rare lobeliads and mints are being propagated. 

Sunday, October 14 through Saturday, October 20:
Sunset Nature Walks: In celebration of National Wildlife Refuge Week, join refuge staff in watching the spectacular fall migration of ducks and other birds. Easy guided walk on service roads. Bluebird Parking Lot, Pleasant Plains Road.

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