Try as I might, I don’t actually remember the first time I saw the blue goose sign that designates national wildlife refuges.
I imagine it was at one of the NWRs in the Southeast, where my family would vacation while my Dad worked on acquisitions for the Service.
I have been trying to recall my first look as we celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week on October 14-20.
Well, it may be lost in the fog of time, but I can remember many, many great days inside of those boundary signs. And a great memory, earlier this year posting the first blue goose sign, with Secretary Salazar and Regional Director Cindy Dohner at the Everglades Headwaters NWR.
Pilot Butte Elementary students pose with their "Get your goose on!" towels at Seedskadee NWR in Wyoming. Photo Credit: Katie Theule/USFWS
In the introduction to her Conservation in Action series, Rachel Carson wrote, “Wherever you meet this sign, respect it.”
I definitely respect the blue goose, too, and all that it means.
As Carson explained in that same introduction: “It means that the land behind the sign has been dedicated by the American people to preserving, for themselves and their children, as much of our native wildlife as can be retained along with our modern civilization. “
The sign, then, shows the country’s commitment to wild things, and we help the country honor that commitment.
Since Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has grown to more than 150 million acres in 558 refuge units and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge, and there’s a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.
I know that we are all so busy – and sometimes it feels like we can’t spare a moment.
But when we are really busy is when we must take some time, or we risk forgetting just what we are working for.
We work so the American people will always have wild areas untouched by modern life … areas where the nation’s fish and wildlife and plants can live as they have always lived … areas where people can hunt, fish, watch wildlife or just revel in the wonder of nature.
I am pretty confident most everyone in the Service shares the “sense of wonder” Rachel Carson talked about. We must do all we can not only to spread it to others, but also to never let it dull in us.
The blue goose shows us where to go to keep that wonder flourishing, and I urge everyone to take advantage of at least one event during Refuge Week.
Find an event at: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/SpecialEvents/FWS_SpecialEvents_Search.cfm. Choose “National Wildlife Refuge Week (Oct. 14-20)” in the “Search by Event Category” dropdown list. And have some fun out there!
Happy National Wildlife Refuge Week!