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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of December 12th

Is holiday shopping, cooking, and preparing making you say "Bah-Humbug" more than "Happy Holidays!"?  Take a break from all the running around and head outside to get a breath of fresh air. Even though the temperature is dropping there are still things to do and see.

Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country this week, some in the spirit of the season.  Check out this link for more events happening in December on our refuges.

As always, make sure you head over to the Refuge System's homepage and use their searchable map to find events at a Wildlife Refuge near you.

Let's go outside!

SnowshoeingGuests snowshoe at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge in the Mountain-Praire Region, Photo: Jennifer Jewett

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Looking Back: Chuck Hunt

Every so often it's good to look into the past to revisit the people who got us where we are today. Looking Back is a series on the people who helped shape the National Wildlife Refuge System. The series is based on "A Look Back," a regular column written by Karen Leggett, from the Refuge System Branch of Communications, which appears in each issue of the Refuge Update newsletter.

Chuck Hunt grew up in a remote Yupik village in Alaska, rich in culture, subsisting on the resources of nature.

Chuck Hunt

Those villages are still remote, but now they have schools, satellites and science. Hunt became the bridge between those two worlds. A 22-year employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Charles Francis “Chuck” Hunt served as a Native liaison for the Yupik people of western Alaska’s Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. Officially, he was a translator between the Upik language and English.

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Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of December 5th

It's the holiday season on our refuges! Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country this week, many in the spirit of the season.  Check out this link for more events happening in December on our refuges.

As always, make sure you head over to the Refuge System's homepage and use their searchable map to find events at a Wildlife Refuge near you!

Let's go outside!

Sleigh Passing Elk HerdSleigh passing elk herd Photo: Lori Iverson/USFWS

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Looking Back: Mollie Beattie

Every so often it's good to look into the past to revisit the people who got us where we are today. Looking Back is a series on the people who helped shape the National Wildlife Refuge System. The series is based on "A Look Back," a regular column written by Karen Leggett, from the Refuge System Branch of Communications, which appears in each issue of the Refuge Update newsletter.

The first woman to head the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mollie Beattie, was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. Then-Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt wrote that Beattie was determined to make the Service “the strongest protector of America’s wild creatures and the finest steward over America’s National Wildlife Refuges.” 

Three years later, Babbitt mourned Beattie’s death of brain cancer when she was only 49 years old.

He wrote that Beattie “fought fiercely against the forces that sought to weaken the mission of our wildlife refuges, to gut the Endangered Species Act, or to turn the lights off on good science through funding cuts.” 

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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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Photo Tour: More Scenes from Fall

Can you believe we're nearly to the end of November?  Migrations are well underway, colorful leaves are dropping, and snow may even be starting to fall where you are.

But before we make the transition into winter, we'd like to take you on another fall photo tour. What's your favorite thing about fall?

The colors?  

The smells?  

The sounds of ducks over head or leaves crunching underfoot?

Whatever it may be, we hope these images alerts your senses and you can get away for just a moment.  Enjoy!

Orange leaves on a blue skySycamore Tree on the Phelan Island Unit on Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge Photo: Justine Belson/USFWS

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Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events Week of November 1

The National Wildlife Refuge System has 555 refuges across the country, which means there’s always something going on! Each week, we feature some of the events on our Facebook or Twitter pages, but now we’re bringing them to you here as an easier way to access them in one place. Check out our list each week for ideas on what to do outside.

Go out and experience nature – then share with us what you did and what you thought!

Biking on nature trails at a Refuge

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Looking Back: Grady Mann

Many residents of the northern Great Plains thanked providence this spring that record floods spared their homes. They may not know it, but some are also in debt to retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Grady E. Mann.

Thanks in large part to Mann, some 15,000 square miles of western Minnesota marshland escaped the plow and retain a historic ability to hold runoff and support waterfowl. But 60 years ago, when Mann began seeking public support for wetland restoration, the concept drew a cold reception.

Grady Mann

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Looking Back: Lucille Farrier Stickel

“Here she was the director of the research center and her husband a prestigious biologist and in evenings and on weekends, you would see the two of them going around with little bags picking up trash and gum wrappers along the side of the entrance road.”  So recalls Gary Heinz, a US Geological Survey research biologist whose career was nurtured by Lucille Stickel at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

Lucille Stickel

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Self-Discovery and Solitude in the Wilderness

Monica Patel is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wilderness Fellow who worked this year at Great Swamp and Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuges in New Jersey and Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine. She has a master’s degree in environmental management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University  

What does “wilderness” mean to you?  You’ve got to love this answer, credited to a 16th-century European settler:  

a “dark and dismal place where all manner of wild beasts dash about uncooked.” 

In recent decades, most of us have grown more appreciative of the country’s last remaining wild places.

Lately, I have been thinking about how I view wilderness. It all started with a hike into the woods.

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