Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week By Visiting a
Refuge Near You
October 9, 2001
Christine Eustis, 404/679-7287
A child fishing on a quiet pond, bird watching with a friend along a nature trail, taking your family on a guided, boat tour, listening to the sounds of nature at night - - all of these activities and more are available on National Wildlife Refuges during National Wildlife Refuge week, October 14 - 21, 2001. Throughout the Southeast, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees 115 refuges. To find the one nearest you, visit the website http://refuges.fws.gov/centennial/.
“National Wildlife Refuge Week is a great time for Americans to celebrate and enjoy their natural heritage,” said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service's Southeast Regional Director.
“In fact, March 14, 2003 will mark the Centennial Anniversary of our refuge system.”
On March 14, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt began the National Wildlife Refuge System when he established Pelican Island refuge, then a tiny five-acre island, near Sebastian, Florida. Created as a haven for brown pelicans, egrets, and other native birds from plume hunters, Pelican Island is now over 5,000 acres of marsh and lagoon habitat. President Roosevelt established 55 other refuges nationwide before he left office in 1909. Now, the national refuge system includes 535 refuges encompassing 94 million acres. In the Southeast Region, the refuge system is slightly over 3 million acres.
Refuges exist primarily for wildlife and habitat management and protection. Nationwide, the refuge system provides habitat for 180 threatened and endangered animals and 78 threatened or endangered plants. However, nationwide, about 35 million visitors annually enjoy hunting, fishing bird watching, or viewing wildlife. Hunting takes place on nearly 300 refuges and fishing on 260 refuges.
Here is a sampling of National Wildlife Refuge Week activities from refuges across the Southeast: More details on each southeastern refuge are available on the websites http://188.8.131.52/databases/events.taf?function=form or http://refuges.southeast.fws.gov/.
- Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Folkston, Georgia: On Saturday, October 13, Okefenokee - Our Beautiful Backyard: A day-long festival in Folkston includes a parade; open house at the refuge's Chesser Island Homestead; interpretive tours of the
Wildlife Drive; and guided boat tours. For more information, please contact the refuge at
telephone number 912/496-7836.
- Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, DeLeon Springs, Florida: On Saturday, October 13, Family Fun Day: From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, activities include a kid's tent with water critters and other events; bird and nature walks; a local wildlife rehabilitator with wildlife to view; and a butterfly release. For more information, please contact the refuge at telephone number 904/985-4673.
- Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Boynton Beach, Florida: On Saturday, October 13, activities begin at 7:30 a.m. with an early morning bird walk on the Marsh Trail. At 8 a.m., begin a canoe journey by following the refuge's canoe trail through the Everglades with a guide. At 1:30, attend an invasive plants workshop. For more information, please contact the refuge at telephone number 561/369-7190.
- Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal River, Florida: Discover Your Refuge Celebration: On Saturday, October 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Activities include a boat tour, kayak demonstrations, live music, birds of prey, environmental education games, and willdife and conservation education exhibits. For more information, please contact the refuge at telephone number 352/563-2088.
- Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Awendaw, South Carolina: Activities scheduled on Saturday and Sunday, October 13 -14, and Saturday, October 20. On October 13, go on a Bulls Island guided birding tour from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. On October 14, go on a guided tour of Bulls Island. On October 20 at 2 p.m., attend the Sewee Film Festival for Kids (nature videos) at the Sewee Visitor Center. For more information, please contact the refuge at telephone number 843/928-3264.
- Ace Basin National Wildlife Refuge, Hollywood, South Carolina: On the morning of Saturday, October 20, attend a birding field trip and talk at the Grove. On Monday and Tuesday, October 15 and 16, a muzzleloader hunt will be held at the refuge's Edisto Unit and on October 18 to 29, a muzzleloader hunt will be held at the refuge's Combahee Unit. For more information, please contact the refuge at telephone number 843/889-3282.
- Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, Lacomb, Louisiana: On Saturday, October 13, Wild Things 2001: A family festival will feature live music, wildlife crafts, tours, exhibits, food and prizes. On Saturday, October 20, Wild Things Cochon d' Lait: Enjoy a Louisiana-style pig roost from 6:30 to 10 p.m. For more information, please contact the refuge at telephone number 584/646-7555.
- Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, Brooksville, Mississippi: On Saturday, October 20, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., go on an archaeological investigation of an old farmhouse site on the refuge or go on a field trip down Douglas Bluff. A birding clinic in the Refuge Conference Room will begin at 9 a.m., followed by field trips on the refuge. For more information, please contact the refuge at telephone number 662/323-5548.
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 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 70 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.
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