The Chesapeake Bay watershed encompasses 64,000 square miles and more than 16 million people live and work here. That translates into a lot of roads, parking lots, malls, schools, houses and office buildings. In this increasingly concrete world, we need wild places to explore and discover nature.
Our wildlife needs these natural areas, whether they be forests, fields, wetlands, creeks or rivers. These are habitats, places where they find food and water and nesting and resting places. Natural habitats are critical to the survival of native plants, insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals and more.
The National Wildlife Refuge system is a unique network of public lands set aside specifically for the conservation of fish, wildlife and plants, including endangered and threatened species. Refuges provide habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and countless species of invertebrates and plants. Nearly 260 threatened or endangered species are found on refuges.
Refuges are great for people, too. They provide opportunities to see wildlife in a natural environment. Many refuges have interpretive trails. Birding, hiking, biking, wildlife observation and photography are some activities that visitors can enjoy. Some refuges permit hunting, fishing and trapping.
National Wildlife Refuge Week is October 12-18, 2008. Refuges will be holding special events that will include tours, guided walks, exhibits, live animals, crafts, children’s activities and lots more. Chances are there’s a refuge close to you. So spice up your autumn and check out something wild at a refuge!
For more information about the National Wildlife Refuge system, call (800) 344-WILD or see http://refuges.fws.gov