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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

National Wildlife Refuges Renew the Land

By Susan Morse

The refuge whose beauty awes you may once have been an arsenal, a waste dump or abandoned farm field. National Wildlife Refuge Week, Oct. 14-20, is a fine time to learn how national wildlife refuges renew damaged land and make it flourish again.

In the Midwest, staff at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa and the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa and Minnesota are engaged in two of the world’s largest restorations of tallgrass prairie. They’re cultivating native plants that once covered the Plains before over-plowing depleted the soil, worsened seasonal flooding and nearly wiped out many species. Through their efforts, the land is returning to health and again sustaining bison, elk, butterflies and grassland birds.

sawtooth-sunflowerThe Sawtooth sunflower is also known as the 'thick-toothed sunflower". This native perennial wildflower can reach up to 12 feet tall. (Photo: USFWS)

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What's Up with the National Wildlife Refuge System?

There is a lot of news about our National Wildlife Refuge System this week!

bison(Bison graze on the prairie at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. Photo: USFWS)

Rise in Activity

For instance, did you know that participation in wildlife-associated recreation has increased in 28 states since 2006?

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Fee Free Days 2012: The Big Dates that You Need to Know

Everyone likes free, right?  Today, the Department of the Interior announced the 2012 federal fee free (try saying that three times) days on public lands like National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges.  

While many of us are just getting into the autumnal mood, 2012 is right around the corner. It's never too early to start planning that dream family vacation or reflective long weekend in the outdoors.

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Everything you need to know about National Wildlife Refuge Week

Next week is one of our favorite times of the year here at Open Spaces: National Wildlife Refuge Week!   

Of course, anytime is a good time to visit a National Wildlife Refuge.  But no week on the calendar is as filled with as many events as National Wildlife Refuge Week, celebrated each year during the second full week of October. 

So, as promised, here’s everything you need to know to help celebrate your National Wildlife Refuge System:

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