Facebook icon Twitter icon Flicker icon You Tube icon

Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of December 19th

Well, it's here - the end of the year is upon us.  Looking for something to do to celebrate a new year? Ring in the holidays with events at a refuge!  

Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country through the end of December. Check out this link for even more events happening in December on our refuges, including the nearly century old tradition sponsored by the Audobon Society - the Christmas bird count!

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!

Christmas bird count, Nevada 2009Birders participating in the 2009 Christmas Bird Count at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

[More]

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

[More]

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

[More]

Teddy Roosevelt and the History of the National Wildlife Refuge System

Today, there are 553 refuges across the country, with at least one in every state, providing safety to more than 250 threatened or endangered plants and animals.  Have you ever wondered how we got there?

President Roosevelt, known for his love of nature and wildlife established Pelican Island as our first national refuge in 1903.  Though he didn’t know it at the time, Roosevelt had set the nation on the path to building the largest national Refuge System in the world. 

Throughout his presidency, refuges were established around the country, and by the time he left office in 1909, he had declared 53 refuges in 17 states and three territories.

[More]

Florida: Climate Change and the People Factor

A deer reaches upwards to eat fruit

Florida is a unique ecosystem where subtropical wildlife and habitats mix with their cooler-counterparts. Where else could one find an endangered Key deer eating a red mangrove? Accelerating climate change is expected to throw off the delicate balance. Photo: USFWS

Video iconVideo: Scientists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discuss the effects climate change will have on the state of Florida, stressing the need to develop our science and methods of addressing this massive change.

Nowhere else, with the possible exception of Alaska, is climate change expected to be as dramatic as in Florida. The signs are already here. 

  • In the Florida Keys, just a half-foot rise in sea level over the last 100 years reduced the pine rockland forest on one island by two-thirds. The globally imperiled habitat is home to many plants and animals that exist nowhere else, including the endangered Key deer, a smaller cousin of the white-tailed deer.
  • Along the coasts, beaches are eroding from a combination of sea-level rise and storms, reducing the sea turtles’ nesting habitat.
  • Fifty years ago, sooty terns would arrive in April on Bush Key in the Dry Tortugas National Park, the largest U.S. nesting colony for the seabird. Now they arrive starting in late January.

Florida’s low elevation makes it especially susceptible to sea-level rise, and its fragile ecosystems are sensitive to changes in temperature and precipitation. Climate change is also expected to compound multiple threats already facing south Florida’s wildlife and habitat: habitat loss, droughts and competition with exotic species.

For the human population, sea-level rise could drastically affect drinking water supplies and flood protection. Sea water is already creeping into groundwater sources, and flooding is a regular occurrence in some coastal areas.

But as biologists and conservationists begin to grapple with how to safeguard wildlife as climate change accelerates, they need new tools. Most computer models and forecasts won’t do the job. That’s because people play a deciding role, altering ecosystems with new roads, buildings and other infrastructure.

People have to be factored in to future climate scenarios.

[More]