“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:
- Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, ND, 2:30 to 7 p.m.
- Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, TX, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge, IL, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For reservations, call (618) 634-2231, beginning September 13.
- Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, MI, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
- Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, GA, Noon to 4 p.m.
- Patuxent Research Refuge, MD, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Southeast Louisiana Refuges, LA, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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:
Saturday, October 20:
- Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, FL, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, HI, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, October 14 through Saturday, October 20:
- Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, NJ, Daily, 5:45 p.m. to dark