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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

DESERT NWR: Soaring into Refuge Week at Desert NWR!

Region 8, October 14, 2012
Anica Mercado, FWS employee, holding an American kestrel
Anica Mercado, FWS employee, holding an American kestrel - Photo Credit: n/a
Hands-on reptiles with the Garretts
Hands-on reptiles with the Garretts - Photo Credit: n/a
Insect netting and identification with Bruce Lund, FWS volunteer.
Insect netting and identification with Bruce Lund, FWS volunteer. - Photo Credit: n/a

By Anica Mercado, Environmental Education/Visitor Services Specialist

On a beautiful and sunny Sunday morning, 162 visitors came out to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week and the new and improved Corn Creek trails at Desert National Wildlife Refuge.

Visitors began the day at the registration table, where they received an event booklet that included a trail map that indicated all the sites with exciting things to see during the event. The booklets were stamped at each site and turned in when complete to receive prizes. The Contact Station and the SNAP Explore! Mobile Exhibit were located at the trailhead. SNAP, or the Southern Nevada Agency Partnership, is a collaboration between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service. Their 36-foot Explore! Mobile Exhibit includes an interactive map of the public lands of southern Nevada, videos on the many different recreational opportunities, and messages on stewardship.

After touring the mobile exhibit, visitors explored Coyote Loop, one of the new and improved trails. Along the trail they learned about Friends of Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex and Nevada’s Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. Around the bend at the historic Railroad Tie Cabin, members of the Richardson family, descendants of the ranchers that lived at Corn Creek before it became part of the refuge, took everyone back in time. While enjoying cowboy coffee and sun tea, visitors made their own butter to spread on Dutch oven-baked bread as they learned about pioneer life.

A few yards from the cabin, members of the Wild Wing Project, a wildlife rehabilitation organization, had a few of their feathered friends on display. While Max, the red-tailed hawk looked on, visitors took turns holding an American kestrel, the smallest falcon in North America. As an added surprise, visitors watched a female golden eagle spread her six-foot wingspan and take flight as she was returned to the wild. Having been found emaciated with a bruised wing, this bird of prey had been rehabilitated and was released in celebration of Refuge Week.

Guests hiked along Bighorn Loop and Whispering Ben Trail, or took a guided hike of Birdsong Loop to see and hear some of the other 320 bird species that reside on the refuge. At the craft table near the end of the hike, visitors made a kite or their own set of bighorn sheep horns to wear before learning how to net and identify insects.

Winding around to the Jackrabbit Loop, the final stop was with Paula Garrett from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and her family. Showcasing some of the desert life that can be found around the trails, the Garretts provided an opportunity to pet some of the snakes, lizards, and desert tortoise they brought.

After walking the last trail of the day, visitors returned to the registration table. Showing a full booklet stamped at all the interpretive tables, they left with a Refuge Week poster, Let’s Go Outside swag, and great memories of their refuge visit.

Contact Info: Anica Mercado, 775-240-9173, Anica_Mercado@fws.gov