Open Spaces : Federal

In the Weeds at Noxubee Refuge

By Vera Taylor

Until recently, I was a gardener who mainly chose the plants to go in my yard plot because they were given to me, they were cuttings appropriated from public places (I’m sure the bank doesn’t mind that I got my start on purple heart from its bed), or they were 75-percent-off distressed plants dragged home from our local box store.

But that haphazard gardening style has taken a turn, mostly likely because I let it slip that pulling weeds put me in a meditative Zen state. I accepted the post of being in charge of the Native Plant Garden at Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee Refuge in Mississippi.

red_buckeyeSweet pepperbush blooming (Photo: USFWS)

You know what they say. “Fools rush in …” That might describe my agreeing to take on this task. It isn’t just a learning curve, but more like a corkscrew – in terms of my knowledge of native plants. Fortunately, I enjoy the process of growing plants and learning about new species.

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What's a National Wildlife Refuge?

As someone who works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I’m occasionally asked about what a National Wildlife Refuge is.  My first response is always, "well, it's sort of like a park, but different."

That is, of course, true, but I always want to give more of an explanation.  So, without further adieu, here it is:

Within the Department of the Interior, you’ll find both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – which manages national wildlife refuges -- and National Park Service – which manages national parks.  Both work toward preservation of our natural world, but, there are differences.

Arctic Refuge AlaskaThinking on a mountain at Arctic Refuge in Alaska Photo: Steve Chase/USFWS

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Everything You Need to Know About This Weekend's Federal Duck Stamp Contest

This Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28, and Oct. 29, we’re holding the nation’s oldest government-sponsored art contest and the most prestigious wildlife art competition - the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. The winner will see his or her art made into the 2012-2013 Federal Duck Stamp, which will raise millions of dollars for conservation.

Last Year's Winning Stamp from James Hautman

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Last updated: June 21, 2012