National Wildlife Refuge System
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April 2012 Events

Bicyclists get close to wildlife while sampling some of the 30-plus miles of trails at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in California.

Bicyclists get close to wildlife while sampling some of the 30-plus miles of trails at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in California.

Credit: John and Karen Hollingsworth

“First Sunday”: Welcome to St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge
Sunday, April 1, 2 p.m. ─ St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL
See a presentation about St. Vincent Island, an undeveloped barrier island managed by St. Marks Refuge.  The island is a haven for endangered and threatened species, including bald eagles, sea turtles, indigo snakes, and gopher tortoises. It’s also an important stop-off point in the Gulf of Mexico region for neo-tropical migratory birds and a breeding area for endangered red wolves. First Sunday presentations are in the Environmental Education Center.

Spring Fever Wildlife Viewing Tour
Wednesday, April 4, 10 a.m. to noon — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
See refuge newborns and spring migrants arriving at their summer home. Reservations are required: 303-289-0930.

Guided Moonlight Canoe Trip
Friday, April 6, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. — Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Enjoy a moonlight canoe tour through the refuge interior, in the northernmost reaches of the Everglades. Wear long-sleeved shirt and long pants and bring a flashlight and bug spray. Fee: $10 per person. Canoe rental required; fee includes rental. Reservations: 561-733-0192

First Friday
Friday, April 6, 5 p.m. until dark — Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, MO
Enjoy free tower tours and hayrides. See a new interactive display at the visitor center. Learn about refuge habitats and the best methods for fishing on Silver Lake. Pick up a Swan Lake Adventure Tracks scavenger hunt at the visitor center. At 6 p.m., hear the family bluegrass band, CurreyKorn, in the new outdoor amphitheater. At 7 p.m. see an educational program about reptiles with live snakes and lizards. Just before dark, meet at the Outdoor Amphitheater to join refuge staff for a night hike.

Bay Bike Ride
Saturday, April 7, 10:30 a.m. — Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Take an 11-mile bike ride along Marshlands Road and on the Shoreline Trail to observe birds and the occasional leopard shark. Pass through several habitat types including salt marsh, salt pond and the bay.  Reservations: 510-792-0222 ext. 363

Wildflower Walks
Saturday, April 7, 14, 21, 28, 10 a.m. — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, IL
Join a guided hike along the Rocky Bluff Hiking Trail in search of spring wildflowers. Reservations: 618-997-3344 ext. 1.

Bison bison
Saturday, April 7, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
The largest bison herds ever seen in America numbered in the millions. Learn about these creatures and tour the pasture in search of the largest mammal in North America. Binoculars recommended. Reservations are required: 303-289-0930.

Sky Islands Ethnobotany
Saturday, April 7, 1 p.m. overnight to Sunday, April 8, 2 p.m.  — Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, AZ
Learn to identify, use and cook wild plants that you find in Brown Canyon. Learn the native plants that provide food, fiber, fire, shelter, tools, medicine and art. Registration is required: 520-823-4251. Members $105; nonmembers $125.

Women’s Outdoor Skills Workshop
Friday, April 13 to Saturday, April 14 — Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, MO
Attend a two-day workshop aimed at teaching outdoor recreation skills to women age 14 and up. Classes include canoeing, pistol and rifle shooting, river and fly fishing, wildlife photography, frontier weapons, Dutch oven cooking and decorative gardening. The seventh annual event is hosted by the Women in the Outdoors Volunteer Committee of the National Wild Turkey Federation and refuge staff. The program begins with a hayride and hog roast at 5 p.m. Friday. Registration information: 660-442-3187.

Some Archaeology of Southern Arizona and the Altar Valley
Saturday, April 14, 1 p.m. overnight to Sunday, April 15, 2 p.m. — Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, AZ
Learn how to place the Altar Valley in the context of what is known about early man in the interior Southwest. Registration is required: 520-823-4251. Members $105; nonmembers $125.

Earth and Sense of Wonder Day
Saturday, April 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT
Join a family-friendly celebration of the wonders of the outdoors, featuring free birding tours, games and crafts.

Astronomy: Saturn Viewing
Saturday, April 14, 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. — Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Join volunteers from the Las Vegas Astronomical Society and their telescopes to see Saturn, stars, nebulae and deep space objects that come out in the clear desert night sky.

Camp under the Stars
Saturday, April 14 to Sunday April 15 – Desert National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Join the Friends of Desert NWR Complex and Mojave Family Experience for a campout to remember.

Prairie Chicken Festival 
Saturday, April 14 to Sunday, April 15, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. — Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy tours of the refuge and views of endangered Attwater prairie chickens on their booming grounds.

Nature Hike for Families
Sunday, April 15, 1:30 p.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join refuge staff and volunteers for a 1.5-mile walk to explore the refuge and learn about local animals and habitats. The program is geared toward 5-to-10-year-olds; siblings are welcome. The $8-per-family fee goes to the refuge Friends group. To register, email Susan_J_Russo@fws.gov. Rain date: Saturday, April 21.

A Sense of Place: Nature Walk
Sunday, April 15, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. — Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Explore and celebrate the floodplain’s spring renewal. See fattening buds, delicate blossoms and greening shoots. Watch swallows swoop and dive over the impoundments and hear birdsong fill the air. Look for muskrats, migrating waterfowl and spring frogs. Waterproof boots are recommended.

Bayou Teche Black Bear and Birding Festival
Friday, April 20 to Sunday, April 22 — Franklin, LA
The annual festival celebrates species found in North America’s largest river swamp, such as white pelicans and roseate spoonbills. Guided boat tours and paddling trips into Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge are featured attractions, along with a photo show, music and fireworks.


Earth Day Events
Since 1970, Americans have set aside April 22 as a day to raise environmental awareness and teach what people can do to reduce pollution and heal the earth. Many national wildlife refuges will sponsor Earth Day cleanups or other events on or about that date, as they do every year. Here are some examples:

  • Earth Day Cleanup

Saturday, April 14, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Help remove waste from the roadsides in and around the refuge. Gloves, vests and refreshments will be supplied. Free T-shirt for participants.

  • Earth Day Film

Sunday, April 15, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. — Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, ND
Enjoy a meet and greet at the visitor center. Then see “Green Fire,” a documentary about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold.

  • Earth Day: Weed Warriors

Friday, April 20, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Help stop non-native invasive plants on the refuge.  Bring gloves, water, bug repellent and hand tools if available.  Let’s fight these alien invaders.

  • Earth Day Volunteer Opportunity

Saturday, April 21, 9 a.m. to noon — Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, IA
Join the Friends of the Prairie Learning Center for a day of volunteer work at the refuge. 

  • Earth Day Bird Walk

Saturday, April 21, 8 a.m. to noon — Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Join the Kent County Bird Club for a Beginner’s Bird Walk.  Spend the morning exploring trails and overlooks, looking for a variety of migrants, from raptors to warblers. Bring water and a snack.

  • Earth Day Cleanup

Saturday, April 21, 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, NJ
Join Galloway Township’s Clean Communities Program for its annual Earth Day cleanup. Rain or shine. Register: 609-652-1665 ext. 19.

  • Earth Day Celebration

Friday, April 20 to Sunday, April 22 — Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Participate in marsh-wide activities sponsored by Friends of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. Hike or bicycle the Old Marsh Road. See live amphibians and reptiles. Enjoy songs and entertainment.

  • Earth Day Fun

Saturday, April 21, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy canoeing, kayaking, bird and butterfly viewing, walking the levee trail, dip netting and fishing lessons in the lake for kids.

  • Earth Day Interpretive Loop

Sunday, April 22, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. — San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA
Spend your morning discovering nature and wildlife on a guided tour of the Sweetwater Interpretive Loop.


Bunker Tour
Sunday, April 22, 11 a.m. — Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, MA
Join a local historian for an informative hour’s talk and tour of one of the ammunitions storage bunkers at the refuge.  Register: janmariew@netzero.net or 508-485-4170.

Santee Birding and Nature Festival
Friday, April 27 to Sunday, April 29 — Santee National Wildlife Refuge, SC
Join birders and naturalists at one of the state’s only nature festivals. Take field trips throughout the midlands of South Carolina. Learn about wonderful natural places and their inhabitants.

Balcones Songbird Festival
Friday, April 27to Monday, April 30 — Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy refuge tours and workshops.

Birding and Crystal Festival
Friday, April 27 to Sunday, April 29 — Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, OK
The annual festival typically features guided tours, workshops, decoy-carving demonstrations and selenite crystal digging contests.

Cache River Birding Blitz
Saturday, April 28 — Southern Illinois
Teams compete to see which can identify the most species of birds in 24 hours. Favorite birding spots include Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge and Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.

Spring Into Nature
Saturday, April 28, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, NY
Join in a day of fun, hands-on activities, exhibits and live birds of prey. Spotting scopes will be set up to look in on nesting bald eagles.

Frogs’ Chorus
Saturday, April 28, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. — Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, WI
Learn frog calls and enjoy an evening hike.

Carp Rodeo
Saturday, April 28, 9 a.m. to noon — Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Come out for a fun family event, fishing seminars, and prizes for the largest fish caught. Help eradicate carp in Pahranagat waters. Fishing poles, bait and tackle are provided by Nevada Department of Wildlife. Valid Nevada state fishing license required.

Night Hike
Saturday, April 28, 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Discover the nighttime world of the refuge as you look and listen for nocturnal animals on this guided walk.  Ages 5+


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