National Wildlife Refuge System
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Reserve a sunrise blind tour in early August at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin and see whooping crane chicks train to fly behind an ultra-light airplane.
Reserve a sunrise blind tour in early August at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin and see whooping crane chicks train to fly behind an ultra-light airplane.
Credit: USFWS

Summer Means Outdoor Adventure in the National Wildlife Refuge System

If ever there was a season made for exploring National Wildlife Refuges, this is it. The fields and forests are green, the birds are back and the natural world is humming with activity. Refuges around the country are humming with family activities, too. Paddle a waterway. Take the kids to a free fishing derby. Enjoy a refuge festival. Or attend some more off-beat events.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world's premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants. There is a National Wildlife Refuge within an hour's drive of most major cities.


Here is a sampling of upcoming refuge events:

Learn About Alaska's Dragonflies
Friday, July 9, 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. — Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
Come discover this species through activities, displays, and field trips that are fun for the whole family. There will be a special arts project with a take home craft for kids, and refreshments will be provided as well.

For more information, visit http://kenai.fws.gov/ or call 907-260-2839.

Enjoy a Campfire
Saturday, July 10, and every Saturday following through September 4, 7:00 p.m. — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Illinois
Come spend a summer evening next to a campfire!

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/craborchard/ or call 618-988-5933.

Discover How to Identify Trees
Saturday, July 10, 10:00 a.m. — Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, Texas
As part of the Second Saturday Nature Program, come learn how to recognize and name certain trees. There will also be a nature program for children age 6-12.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/hagerman/ or call 903-786-2826.

Improve Your Basket Weaving
Sunday, July 11, 12:00 p.m. (noon) - 4:00 p.m. Cathlapotle Plankhouse — Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington
Take part in this edition of the Second Sunday Series: A series of presentations on Chinookan culture, archaeology and natural history, every second Sunday from April through October. Connie Graves, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, will demonstrate the basic techniques of basket weaving with various materials. Children's activities will be included.

For more information, visit http://www.ridgefieldfriends.org/plankhouse-lifeways.php.
For more information on the refuge, visit http://www.fws.gov/ridgefieldrefuges/ridgefield/index.html or call 360-887-4106.

Canoe and Clean Up Limestone Bay
Saturday, July 17, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. — Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama
Take part in the Clean & Learn event. Come out and canoe the waters of Limestone Bay and help clean the area.

Contact: Teresa Adams at teresa_adams@fws.gov or call 256-350-6639.
For more information on the refuge, visit: http://www.fws.gov/wheeler/ or call 256-353-7243.

Take the Kids to Mississippi River Adventure Day
Monday, July 19 — Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Iowa
Mississippi River Adventure Day offers kids the freedom and adventure that children took for granted a generation or two ago. Enjoy a Huck Finn mix of activities for kids and families on the Mississippi.

For more information, visit: http://friendsofpool9.org/mrad.htm.
For more information on the refuge, visit: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/UpperMississippiRiver/ or call 507-452-4232.

Learn to Recognize Local Plants
Saturday, July 24, 1:00 p.m. — Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge/Cache River Wetland Center, Illinois
Native vegetation provides us with food and medicine, but which forest plants are edible and which ones have healing qualities?  This program will help you discover how plants play a vital role in our everyday lives and which southern Illinois plants are most useful to humans.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/cypresscreek/ or call 618-657-2064.

Enjoy a Whooping Crane Tour
Friday, August 6-8, 5:00 - 10:00 a.m. — Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin
Watch from a blind as the whooping crane chicks of 2010 train to fly behind an ultra-light airplane. The event includes a refuge tour and an opportunity to meet with partners in the whooping crane conservation program. Reservations are required and go fast. To reserve, call 608-565-2551.

For more information, visit: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/necedah/ or call 608-565-2551.

Learn About Reptiles and Amphibians
Saturday, August 7, 10:00 a.m. — Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama
Hear how important snakes, lizards and frogs are to the environment. You will also have opportunity to see and touch these wonderful creatures!

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/wheeler/ or call 256-350-6639.

Watch a Weaving and Carving Demonstration
Saturday, August 8, 12:00 (noon) - 4:00 p.m. — Cathlapotle Plankhouse at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington
Participate in this edition of the Second Sunday Series: A series of presentations on Chinookan culture, archaeology, and natural history, taking place every second Sunday from April through October. This session's title is “Traditional Technology” and includes demonstrations on ravenstail weaving, flintnapping, Chinookan carving, atlatl throwing and textile arts. Children's activities will be included.

For more information, visit http://www.ridgefieldfriends.org/plankhouse-lifeways.php.
For more information on the refuge, visit http://www.fws.gov/ridgefieldrefuges/ridgefield/index.html or call 360-887-4106.

Meet a Live Vulture
Saturday, August 14, 10:30 a.m. — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Illinois
Vultures are fascinating birds, capable of digesting meat at any stage of decay and withstanding disease. Come see this remarkable scavenger when Free Again Wildlife Rehabilitation presents a live vulture. Family activities will follow.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/craborchard/ or call 618-988-5933.

Attend Wild Berry Fun Day
Friday, August 20, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. — Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
Join refuge staff and volunteers for a fun-filled day learning about Alaska's wild berries and how they benefit wildlife and people. Enjoy displays, activities, identification walks, crafts for kids, and “berry” delicious refreshments.

For more information, visit http://kenai.fws.gov/ or call 907-260-2839.

Learn to Identify Shorebirds
Saturday, August 21 — Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware
Shorebird ID Workshop teaches how to identify shorebirds, based on size, structure, habits and plumage. Half-day trip includes classroom and field work. Reservations are required. To reserve, call Andy Urquhart at 302-239-2471 before August 19.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/northeast/bombayhook/ or call 302-653-9345.

Learn about Being Cold-Blooded
Saturday, August 28, 1:00 p.m. — Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge/Cache River Wetlands Center, Illinois
How can you tell a male box turtle from a female?  If you step on a cottonmouth snake, will it bite?  How can you tell a venomous copperhead from a harmless prairie king snake?  What kind of skunk has a blue-tipped tail?  Discover some of the unique characteristics of “Cold-Blooded Creatures of the Cache” and experience an up-close and personal interaction with reptiles native to southern Illinois. The program concludes with a hike to look for cold-blooded creatures at Heron Pond.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/cypresscreek/ or call 618-657-2064.

Submit a Photo
September 1-30 — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Illinois
The Friends of Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge will be accepting entries to their annual photo contest throughout the month of September. Categories include: Scenic, Wildlife and Plants. Awards will be announced in October.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/craborchard/ or call 618-988-5933.

Learn About Reptiles and Amphibians
Saturday, September 11, 10:30 a.m. — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Illinois
As part of the Reptile and Amphibian F.U.N. Program, come out to the Crab Orchard Visitor Center to learn all about these cool creatures.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/craborchard/ or call 618-988-5933.

Help Tag Butterflies
Saturday, September 11, 9:30 a.m. - noon — Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Iowa
Grab a net and celebrate the Monarch Migration by helping refuge staff capture, tag and release monarch butterflies.

Contact: Hallie Rasmussen at hallie_rasmussen@fws.gov or call 515-994-3400.
For more information on the refuge, visit: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/nealsmith/.

Attend the 11th Annual Fall Festival & Rummage Sale
Saturday, September 11, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey
Enjoy a day-long celebration for all ages at the Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center. The event includes interpretive walks, activities, music, food and crafts for kids.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/northeast/greatswamp/ or call 973-425-1222.

Attend the 16th Annual Cache River Days
Saturday, September 11, 8:00 a.m. — Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Illinois
Savor food, music, exhibits and family activities. Enjoy guided canoe tours through the wetlands, courtesy of Cypress Creek Refuge. Participants will get an intimate look at ancient bald cypress trees while experiencing the sights and sounds of one of the largest remaining wetland resources in Illinois.

To reserve your space on a canoe tour, call 618-634-2231.
For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/cypresscreek/.

Attend a Whooping Crane & Wildlife Festival
Saturday, September 18 — Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin
Take in a major wildlife celebration, complete with educational presentations, refuge bus tours, children's activities and a 10K and 5K Run/Walk. Check out the festival website: http://www.whooping-crane-festival.com/.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/necedah/ or call 608-565-2551.

Clean up a Refuge for National Public Lands Day
Saturday, September 25, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. — Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Indiana
A National Public Lands Day volunteer cleanup/work day on the refuge will involve many different projects suitable for all ages of volunteers. Lunch is provided.

Contact: Donna Stanley at muscatatuck@fws.gov or call 812-522-4352.
For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/muscatatuck/.

Clean-Up for National Public Lands Day
Saturday, September 25, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m. — Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Texas
Join Scouts and other volunteers in cleaning up trash at the Hwy 105 Trinity River Bridge. Bring gloves if you have them. Aluminum cans and metal will be recycled.

Contact: Stuart Marcus at stuart_marcus@fws.gov or call 936-336-9786.
For more information, visit: http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/trinityriver/.

Attend the 15th Annual Open House
Saturday, October 2, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Maryland
The open house is held in conjunction with National Wildlife Refuge Week. Activities include bird walks, demonstrations, wildlife and refuge management programs, wildlife exhibits, live animal exhibits and programs and tours. For kids, there will be a Junior Refuge Ranger program, a puppet show and other activities.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/blackwater/ or call 410-228-2677.

Take a Night Hike
Saturday, November 6, beginning at 5:30 p.m. — Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin
Join the Friends of Necedah National Wildlife Refuge for an evening of activities that include a popular night hike into the refuge. A dinner with the Friends group begins at 5:30 p.m. (adults: $7.50; 6 to 12-year-olds: $5; children 5 and under are free) at the Ellen Allan Learning Center. The guided walk begins at the same place at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/midwest/necedah/ or call 608-565-2551.

A complete list of refuge activities and special events is available at: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/SpecialEvents/FWS_SpecialEvents_Search.cfm.


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