FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2000
Tom MacKenzie, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (404) 679-7291
Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 8-14, by participating in any one of more than 230 fishing derbies, nature walks, birding tours, special hunts, photography and wildlife art contests, environmental education activities, and other events taking place at national wildlife refuges all across the country.
"National wildlife refuges enjoy a unique niche among the nation's public lands, and National Wildlife Refuge Week is a great opportunity to visit one for the first time," said Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior. "Many wildlife species are very active in the fall, so it's one of the best times of year to experience the drama of animals in the wild."
Nearly 100 years since Teddy Roosevelt established the first refuge, the National Wildlife Refuge System has grown into a 93-million-acre network of lands and waters, protected and nurtured as habitat for a tremendous diversity of plant and animal species. National wildlife refuges range from tiny Pelican Island along Florida's east coast, the nation's first refuge, to the 20-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, one of the wildest places left in America.
Many of the 531 national wildlife refuges serve as rest stops along the major "flyways" used by migrating ducks, geese, and songbirds; others were set aside as sanctuaries for endangered species such as the bald eagle, whooping crane, and the Florida manatee. With urban areas expanding relentlessly, the public is increasingly relying on national wildlife refuges to preserve our natural heritage.
"Wildlife conservation always comes first on refuges, but the system welcomes more than 35 million visitors each year," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "During National Wildlife Refuge Week, we make a special effort to showcase these special places to the American people and build appreciation for nature and the outdoors." Hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, nature photography, environmental education, and interpretation are encouraged on refuges, and most refuges offer the public opportunities to engage in one or more of these activities. The system's long range roadmap, a document called Fulfilling the Promise, calls for the system to expand recreational and educational opportunities and envisions refuges that offer "a variety of opportunities to enjoy and appreciate America's fish, wildlife, and plants."
For more information about National Wildlife Refuge Week events, contact a refuge near you or point your browser to http://refuges.fws.gov and click on "Special Events." For a copy of a visitor's guide, call (800) 344-WILD.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 531 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http:/southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://www.fws.gov.
Reporters: An "online almanac" of refuge information for journalists and filmmakers, including public domain photos, the history of the system, a timeline of recent events, and a wide variety of background information, is available at http://refuges100.fws.gov
Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286