National Wildlife Refuge System
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Clad in hazmat suits, employees from the National Wildlife Refuge System's Northeast Region prepare to don respirators during HAZWOPER training in April in Hadley, Mass

The keel-billed toucan was one of 300 bird species seen during a birding adventure to Costa Rica sponsored by the Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, N.M. Part of the trip fee went to the refuge.

Credit: Jon Morrison

A New Way to Further Wildlife Conservation

Now you and your fellow nature lovers can plan an eco-travel vacation that will show you natural wonders abroad while rewarding wildlife conservation back home. That's thanks to supporters of several National Wildlife Refuges, who have coupled eco-travel with refuge fundraising.

Friends groups at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, as well as at Merritt Island and Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuges in Florida are working through travel agencies to help arrange nature-travel trips that include a $250 donation per traveler to the local refuge.

The Friends of the Bosque del Apache Refuge (http://www.friendsofthebosque.org/), for example, hope as many as 15 eco-adventurers will sign up for a February 5-19, 2011, birding trip to Costa Rica. The travelers will visit Arenal Volcano to look for the elusive bare-necked umbrellabird and will get a tree-top perspective on the rainforest from Arenal Hanging Bridges.

In April, the Merritt Island Wildlife Association (http://www.merrittislandwildlifeassociation.org/) hosted its first wildlife tour, also to Costa Rica, and raised $3,500 for the refuge. Sandee Larsen of the association says the trip was hugely successful; she predicts the eco-tours will be an annual fixture.

For more information, contact:
Merritt Island Wildlife Association: Sandee Larsen at sandee_larsen@hotmail.com or 321-861-2377.
Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge: Jon Morrison at jonmorr@sdc.org or 575-418-165.

For more information on the wildlife refuges:
Bosque del Apache Refuge: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/newmex/bosque/.
Merritt Island Refuge: http://www.fws.gov/merrittisland/
Pelican Island Refuge: http://www.fws.gov/pelicanisland/


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