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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

October 10, 2002

Contact: Kristen Gilbert, Alamosa/ Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge Complex   (719) 589-4021

CELEBRATE NEARLY A CENTURY OF WILDLIFE CONSERVATION DURING
NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE WEEK

Alamosa/Monte Vista National Wildlife refuges to honor partners on October 15

Alamosa/Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge Complex will hold a series of public events celebrating National Wildlife Refuge Week and the 50th Anniversary of Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge October 15-19, 2002. All events will be held at or near the Monte Vista Refuge Office at 6120 South Highway 15, Monte Vista, Colorado

Refuge Week kicks off the National Wildlife Refuge System’s Centennial anniversary celebration. The first national wildlife refuge was established in Pelican Island, Florida on March 14, 1903, and wildlife refuges now cover nearly 100 million acres in all 50 states.

Refuge week celebrations begin Tuesday, October 15 with the following activities:

1 p.m. - Rick Coleman, the Mountain-Prairie Region’s chief of refuges, will dedicate the opening of three wildlife observation pullouts on the refuge eight miles south of Monte Vista, Colorado on State Highway 15. The pullouts were built with the help of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado Department of Transportation and Rio Grande County and enable wildlife watchers to safely pull off of the highway and view sandhill cranes, waterfowl and elk on the refuge. Richard Reynolds, regional director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, a representative from the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Rio Grande Board of County Commissioners are scheduled to be present for the dedication.

2 p.m. - Rick Coleman will present the prestigious National Wetlands Conservation Award to representatives of Ducks Unlimited and the American Farmland Trust at the Rock Creek Ranch three miles south of Monte Vista, Colorado on the west side State Highway 15. The award recognizes the contribution of these groups for their work with many private landowners on this farm and ranch land protection project. The goal of the project is to permanently maintain the agricultural and wetland values of this watershed, which is adjacent to the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge

3 p.m. - A public open house will begin at Monte Vista refuge headquarters

Other events at Alamosa/MonteVista refuge during Refuge Week include:

Wednesday, October 16, a day recognizing former Monte Vista Refuge Manager and conservation pioneer Charles "Pete" Bryant.

Thursday, October 17, we invite refuge neighbors, collaborators and the general public to meet with refuge staff to discuss management concerns and issues in an informal gathering and social followed by an evening crane walk.

Friday, October 18, Refuge Biology Day includes an evening crane walk and a 7 p.m. presentation,"Monte Vista Duck Transects," by refuge Biologist Kelli Stone. The presentation details the nation’s longest running biological accumulation of duck nesting monitoring data, all of which has occurred on Monte Vista refuge.

Saturday October 19, the 50th Birthday Party of the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, complete with cake and punch, children’s activities, the Blue Goose and an on-going refuge history presentation. Events begin at 9:00 am and go until 1:00 pm.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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