FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2002
Do you enjoy kayaking on tidal waters, going on nature walks to see monarch butterflies preparing to migrate back to Mexico, or taking a swamp buggy ride? Visit one of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuges during National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 13-19, 2002. With more than 115 national wildlife refuges totaling over 3 million acres in the Southeast, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has at least one national wildlife refuge in each state. More than 70 special events are planned at 30 refuges throughout the Southeast.
“We are proud that the Southeast is home to the nation’s first national wildlife refuge, Pelican Island in Sebastian, Florida, established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. “As we approach the Centennial celebration of the refuge system in March 2003, we invite people to visit our refuges and see and enjoy their natural heritage.”
In nearly a century, the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System has evolved from one five-acre island, established to protect pelicans from plume hunters, into a 95-million-acre network of 540 refuges that protect habitat for thousands of species of wildlife and plants. Many national wildlife refuges were established along the four migratory bird flyways to provide crucial stopovers for birds during migration. Some national wildlife refuges, such as the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in Gautier, Mississippi, and the Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge in Big Pine Key, Florida, were created specifically to protect federally listed endangered and threatened species. More than 400 of the nation’s refuges are open to the public for outdoor recreation, including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, and photography. Some refuges offer opportunities for nature hikes, bird tours, and wildlife drives.
A few of the highlight events during National Wildlife Refuge Week 2002 include a swamp buggy tour of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Naples, Florida; a guided tour to see monarch butterflies as they prepare for migration at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in St. Marks, Florida; and kayaking trips through the tidal waters of Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge near Hilton Head, South Carolina. For dates, times, descriptions, and locations of events occurring throughout the Southeast, please visit the website http://southeast.fws.gov/nwrw/index.html
For descriptions and locations of events throughout the nation, visit http://refuges.fws.gov and click on “Special Events”.
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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses 540 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.
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://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
Atlanta, GA 30345