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PACIFIC SOUTHWEST REGION: Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Opens Blue Heron Trails
California-Nevada Offices , November 4, 2011
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Blue Heron Trails amphitheater and kiosk
Blue Heron Trails amphitheater and kiosk - Photo Credit: USFWS
Blue Heron Trails boardwalk
Blue Heron Trails boardwalk - Photo Credit: USFWS
Ribbon cutting ceremony at Blue Heron Trails. Alexandra Pitts, USFWS Deputy Regional Director, R8; Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli; Bart McDermott, Stone Lakes NWR Manager; Beatrix Treiterer, Assistant refuge manager; and Puddles.
Ribbon cutting ceremony at Blue Heron Trails. Alexandra Pitts, USFWS Deputy Regional Director, R8; Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli; Bart McDermott, Stone Lakes NWR Manager; Beatrix Treiterer, Assistant refuge manager; and Puddles. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Blue Heron Trails overlooking wetlands
Blue Heron Trails overlooking wetlands - Photo Credit: USFWS
Stone Lakes Elementary School Principal Dr. Bindy Grewal and students: Olivia and Elena Ferraivaolo, proudly display volunteer recognition plaque
Stone Lakes Elementary School Principal Dr. Bindy Grewal and students: Olivia and Elena Ferraivaolo, proudly display volunteer recognition plaque - Photo Credit: USFWS

By Pam Bierce, External Affairs

After many years of habitat restoration and development, Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge officially opened the first area of the refuge to be open daily to visitors. Alexandra Pitts, Deputy Regional Director for the Pacific Southwest Region and Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli, opened the Blue Heron Trails during a ribbon-cutting ceremony November 4 at the refuge, located 12 miles south of Sacramento in Elk Grove, Calif.

The 1,500-foot accessible trail and boardwalk was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and is part of a larger project that will enhance public access on the refuge. The Blue Heron Trails Visitor Contact Station is located near the refuge headquarters and includes interpretive displays, kiosks, and an outdoor amphitheater. The trails wind through wetlands, overlook grasslands, and provide viewing areas to observe many types of wildlife and waterfowl. These trails will support the refuge’s “Junior Biologist” program that provides environmental education to youth groups through hands-on experience. Through various trail activities, students will learn to test for water quality, do different types of plant and animal surveys and become familiar with tools that biologists use.


An unstructured play area, “The Green Heron Playscape” is under construction and will provide a safe play area for the younger children when completed. The playscape is designed with natural features that will help children get to know the natural world.
Visitors will witness the finishing touches this winter as the interpretive panels are installed, along with the shade covering on the amphitheater. There will also be opportunities to become involved with planting and other tasks as community participation continues and is encouraged.


Stone Lakes NWR was established more than 10 years ago to provide refuge for waterfowl and wildlife. The urban refuge was created through persistence, creative actions and strong partnerships, said Refuge Manager Bart McDermott.


“With the support from organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, Sacramento Tree Foundation and an army of students and volunteers, the Service began restoring the property from vineyard into valley oak, and wetland habitat,” McDermott said.


The refuge offers a variety of recreational opportunities, making it possible to experience Central Valley habitat and wildlife in their own backyard. Canoe and kayak wildlife observation programs are offered from June through September, allowing paddlers to enjoy guided trips through portions of the refuge that are usually restricted to the public. Bird watching and docent guided hikes featuring a variety of venues are available October through May. Waterfowl hunting, by reservation only, is offered from October through January. These activities offer up close views of the wildlife and waterfowl and a way to learn more about the refuge.


“We’re excited that Blue Heron Trails is open and we want people to come out and enjoy themselves and see the habitat that has been created for the wildlife,” McDermott said. “This trail connects people with nature.”


Blue Heron Trails Visitor Contact Station is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and is adjacent to Stone Lakes NWR Headquarters located at 1624 Hood-Franklin Road in Elk Grove. For further information regarding the refuge and to view schedules for activities offered, visit http://www.fws.gov/stonelakes/ .


Contact Info: Pam Bierce, 916-414-6542, pamela_bierce@fws.gov



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