|A participant at the 2009 Bogue Chitto Youth Fishing Event proudly shows off her catch — an eel.|
|Credit: Pon Dixon, USFWS|
Get Set for Summer in the National Wildlife Refuge System
Enjoy nature in all its spring finery at a National Wildlife Refuge. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound, along with recreational and educational activities for the whole family. Try birding or photography. Take a hike or canoe trip. 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:
Head to a Youth Fishing Rodeo
Saturday, May 1, 8:00–11:00 a.m. — Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama
Children ages 5 to 12 can compete for trophies awarded for the heaviest–weight fish caught in each age group.
Take Part in River Cleanup Day
Saturday, May 1, 8:00 a.m.–12:00 (noon) — Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin
River Cleanup Day, or "May Day for the Mississippi," will take place at two of the refuge's district offices — Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and McGregor, Iowa. A complementary lunch will be provided after the event. For more details, visit http://friendsofpool9.org/cleanup.htm.
Go on an Owl Prowl
Saturday, May 1, 8:30–10:30 p.m. — Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, New York
Join in a nocturnal search for owls. Pre–registration is required.
To make a reservation and for more information: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/iroquois/ or 585–948–5445.
Take a Bird Walk
Sunday, May 2, 7:00 a.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts
Join the Friends of Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge for a birding and interpretive walk on the refuge. Meet at 680 Hudson Road entrance in Sudbury, about 2.7 miles west of Route 27 and just east of the Stow line.
For more information: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/assabetriver/ or call 978–443–4661.
Take a "Just for Beginners" Bird Walk
Saturday, May 8, 8:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m. — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey
Wildlife Observation Center. Learn key field marks and the use of binoculars. Bring your field guide and binoculars; some loaners will also be available. For beginning birders of all ages.
For more information: http://greatswamp.fws.gov or call 973–425–1222.
Attend "Barns and Bluegrass"
Saturday, May 8, 11:00 a.m.– 2:00 p.m. — William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon
Step back in time with staff and volunteers while touring some of the refuge's historic lodges and barns. Learn about early settlers to this area and how they shaped the land. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy while listening to old–time blue grass music.
Enjoy Step Outside Day
Saturday, May 8, 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. — Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana
Kids can enjoy a variety of hands–on outdoor activities, including target range shooting, decoy painting, archery, educational wildlife games, boat tours and more. The event is presented through a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Louisiana State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge/Sherburne Wildlife Management Area.
Lean about Snakes
Saturday, May 8, 10:30 a.m. — Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri
Come out to the refuge to learn snakes' favorite hiding spots in Holt County. Join a refuge naturalist in the Refuge Outdoor Classroom for fun, games and then a short hike.
For more information: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/squawcreek/ or 660–442–3187.
Take a Turn as Junior Refuge Manager
Saturday, May 8, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. — Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey
On Junior Refuge Manager Day, volunteers will be on hand to assist aspiring junior refuge managers in the Wildlife Observation Center
For more information: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/greatswamp/ or call 973–425–1222.
"Mayfly, Where Are You?"
Sunday, May 9, 1:30 p.m. — Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Missouri
Learn where all the flying insects come from. Join a refuge naturalist in the Refuge Outdoor Classroom for a peek at the small critters that live in the mud. Did you know some dragonflies can live in water for seven years before emerging to fly for only seven days?
For more information: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/squawcreek/ or 660–442–3187.
Attend Birds and Butterflies
Saturday, May 15, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. — Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon
Learn about some of our native pollinators, including the federally endangered Fender's blue butterfly. Discover how the refuge is managing this unique habitat for the rare butterfly and other resident wildlife. Guided walks and activities will emphasize the importance of conserving habitat for wildlife and plants.
Try Birding for the Blind
Saturday, May 15, 8:00–11:00 a.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, Maryland
A free program will introduce visually impaired people, ages 8 and up, and their families or friends to nature and birding through hands–on activities and exploration of outdoor habitats. Participants will learn how to identify birds by sound. The program will take place at the National Wildlife Visitor Center. Registration is required.
Enjoy a Frog Frolic
Saturday, May 15, 9:30–11:00 a.m. — Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota
Enjoy the sounds of the true harbingers of spring. Learn about frogs and toads found on the refuge at the Rapids Lake Education and Visitor Center then hike to areas frequented by these creatures.
For more information: http://midwest.fws.gov/minnesotavalley/ or 952–854–5900.
Don't Miss the Downeast Birding Festival
May 28–30 — Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Maine
Refuge–based festival activities include hikes, raptor presentations and two wildlife walks late on Saturday evening: a woodcock walk around sunset and an owl walk after dark.
Saturday, June 5, 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. — Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia
The refuge's Family Fishing Festival offers workshops and hands–on fishing instruction for both fresh and saltwater fishing novices and enthusiasts. Bait, tackle and loaner rods will be available. In celebration of National Fishing Week, Virginia state fishing license requirements are waived for this entire weekend.
For more information: http://www.fws.gov/backbay/ or call 757–721–2412.
Take a Hike
Saturday, June 5, 9:00 a.m.–12:00 (noon) p.m. — Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, Wisconsin
Celebrate National Trails Day with a guided hike through field, forest and wetland on the Redhead Trail (2.5 miles). Meet at the main parking lot of the auto tour off Hwy 49. Bring water and sturdy shoes.
For more information, visit: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/Horicon/ or call 920–387–2658.
Saturday, June 5 — Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana
A youth fishing event offers 175 kids ages 4–12 all the equipment they need for a day of fishing fun at Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge. The fishing area is stocked with several species of fish. A shady shoreline plus three fishing piers provide ample space for trying out the spin–cast rod and reel provided to each child. Attendees will also be provided with tackle, lunch and a T–shirt, plus prizes for winners in various categories.
For more information: http://www.fws.gov/boguechitto/ or call 985–882–2000.
Sample a Birding Festival
June 11–12, 6:00 a.m. — Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, North Dakota
The Burke County Birding Festival includes tours of grasslands and wetlands housing birds such as Baird's sparrow, LeConte's sparrow, marbled godwit, Sprague's pipet, piping plovers and other more common plains birds.
For more information: http://www.burkecountynd.com/birdingfestival/index.html.
For more information on the refuge: http://lostwood.fws.gov or call 701–848–2722.
Go on a Bird Walk
May and June — Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts
Meet in the refuge parking lot, located off Monsen Road.
Friday, May 14, 7:00 a.m.
Sunday, June 6, 6:30 a.m.
Wednesday, June 16, 7:00 a.m.
For more information: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/greatmeadows or call 978–443–4661.
Take a Birding Hike
May and June, 8:00 a.m. — Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Washington
Hikes last about two hours. Space is limited, reservations are suggested.
May 1: Kiwa Trail, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.
May 2: Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
May 15: Kiwa Trail, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.
May 16: Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
May 22: Oaks to Wetland Trail, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.
May 29: Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
May 30: Kiwa Trail, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.
June 5: Oaks to Wetland Trail, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.
For reservations or additional details, contact Eric Anderson at email@example.com or 360– 887–4106.
For more information on the refuges, visit: http://www.fws.gov/ridgefieldrefuges/ridgefield/ or http://www.fws.gov/ridgefieldrefuges/steigerwaldlake/.
A complete list of National Wildlife Refuge activities and special events is available at: http://www.fws.gov/refuges/SpecialEvents/FWS_SpecialEvents_Search.cfm .