Wildlife Refuge Week, October 10-16, Celebrates Important Role of Conservation
Festivals, Boat Tours, and Nature Walks Among Activities
October 7, 2004
Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291, cell: (678) 296-6400
Cindy Hoffman, 202-208-3008
Whether its hunting, fishing
or wildlife watching, thousands of Americans will flock to national
wildlife refuges during National Wildlife Refuge Week
October 10-16. Visitors will celebrate the National
Wildlife Refuge System’s pivotal role in offering outdoor
recreational opportunities as well as showcasing the conservation
and recovery of wildlife species on refuges across the country. Here
in the Southeast, Refuges are offering festivals, exhibits, boat tours,
and nature walks.
Bald eagles, whooping cranes
and the California condor are some of the endangered and threatened
species that have been helped back from the brink of extinction by
the work of Service biologists on national wildlife refuges. Nearly
260 threatened or endangered species are found on national wildlife
refuges, where they often begin their recovery or hold their own against
are critically important tothe conservation of fish and wildlife,
whether one is thinking of ducks and geese or the recovery of the
bald eagle and the California condor,” U. S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Director Steve Williams said. “Refuges prove their value
every day. Some of the best conservation work is done on refuges.
“We work hard everyday to raise awareness and promote access
to our refuges for hunting, fishing, bird watching, photography, education,
and other outdoor opportunities. There is no better place to reconnect
with both wildlife and the family than on a wildlife refuge.”
The National Wildlife Refuge
System, established in 1903, has 544 national wildlife refuges nationwide.
There are 125 refuges in the Southeast. Across the country, the National
Wildlife Refuge System includes more than 3,000 waterfowl production
areas and spans approximately 100 million acres. It provides habitat
for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile
and amphibian species, more than 1,000 fish, and countless species
of invertebrates and plants.
At the same time, the National
Wildlife Refuge System offers unparalleled wildlife-dependent recreation.
It has more than 890 trails covering approximately 2,500 miles, open
to the public for wildlife observation and photography. Hunting is
offered on 308 refuges; fishing is available on 270 refuges. Additionally,
hundreds of environmental education programs are offered on refuges
across the country.
But nowhere is the work
of national wildlife refuges more important than in the recovery and
protection of endangered and threatened species. The California condor,
for example, dropped to a low of just 22 birds in 1983. Today, more
than 240 condors soar in the wild, nearly 100 of which were raised
in captivity on California refuges dedicated to the birds’ recovery.
“We are fortunate
to have the National Wildlife Refuge System as both an incubator and
protector of endangered species and as a place where we can find such
traditional recreation as hunting and fishing,” Williams said.
“I look forward to celebrating National Wildlife Refuge Week
on a refuge – seeing a new generation enjoy our outstanding
Every state has at least
one national wildlife refuge. People living in metropolitan areas
can usually find a national wildlife refuge just an hour’s drive
“We encourage people
to use National Wildlife Refuge Week as a chance to discover wildlife
refuges. Look for one near your home,” National Wildlife Refuge
System Chief Bill Hartwig said. “Today it’s more important
than ever to reconnect with our natural heritage. So take advantage
of the hunting, fishing, hiking, and wildlife watching
opportunities on a refuge near you.”
Events at Southeastern
refuges during National Wildlife Refuge Week follow:
Week Events 2004 – Southeast Region
8 – Sunday, October 10
Georgia Refuges Complex, Jekyll Island:
2nd Annual Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival.
Field trips to 15 different natural areas in coastal Georgia,
including several of Georgia's national wildlife refuges. Registration
is required for field trips and seminars conducted by field biologists.
"The Rookery", an interactive exhibit hall located in
the Jekyll Island Convention Center, will offer children's programs,
live raptor shows, and over 50 exhibitors including nature artists,
photographers, conservation organizations, and optics companies.
White River NWR, St Charles:
2nd Annual White River Wildlife Festival, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
kids activities, exhibits, see new exhibit hall.
Okefenokee NWR, Folkston:
Okefenokee Festival, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Annual festival, events
at the historic Chesser Island Homestead. Arts and crafts, community
parade, food throughout the day in Folkston. Special sunset boat
Panther NWR, Naples:
Open House, Starting at 8 AM
Refuge staff and volunteers will provide swamp buggy tours, a
photography workshop, and canoe tours through wild orchid habitat
during the annual Open House. Currently closed to the public,
this special event allows the public to enjoy a rare glimpse at
this unique and beautiful refuge. Reservations are required. Please
call 239-353-8442 x 233 on October 5, from 8 am until noon.
Ten Thousand Islands NWR, Naples:
Bird Walk, 8 AM
Join the biologist on a bird walk along a one- mile gravel trail
through a fascinating wetland marsh. This walk will provide opportunities
to view a variety of wetland and upland bird species. The leisurely
hike will last about 2.5 hours. Reservations are required. Please
call 239-353-8442 x 233 on October 5, between 8 am – noon.
St. Marks NWR:
Reading and Sculpture Dedication. Book reading by the authors
for a new environmental book, "Between Two Rivers" and
dedication of a new great blue heron sculpture.
Pocosin Lakes NWR, Columbia:
Scuppernong River Festival. Canoeing, kayaking & hands-on
activities at visitor center area.
Indian Summer Arts and Crafts Festival, Downtown Eufaula. Refuge
staff at booth with Blue Goose costume informing visitors about
refuge system and Eufaula NWR.
A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR, Boynton Beach:
Butterfly and Wildflower Walk, 10 a.m. – meet at the Visitor
Center parking lot and explore these small wonders. Swamp Stroll,
2 p.m. – Meet at the Visitor Center and take a guided stroll
through a cypress swamp
Oct. 12 – Friday, October 15
Reelfoot NWR, Union City:
Oct 12- Free tours of Grassy Island and LongPoint units at 8:00
am., 11:00 am, 2:00 pm
Oct 13 - Backyard Habitat/Grassy Island Bird Walk at 8:00 a.m.
Oct 14 - Backyard Habitat Stewardship Workshop 8:00 a.m, 10:00
a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Oct 15 - Kid's Day from 9:00-2:00 p.m. A variety of activities
including animal molds, clay, scavenger hunt, nature games, and
Oct. 12-Saturday, Oct 16
J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR, Sanibel:
Ding Darling Days, various activities. Schedule at www.dingdarlingdays.com.
Oct 13 – Grand Reopening Event with Director Steve Williams,
Oct 16 festival, more than 3,000 visitors expected.
13-Friday, October 15:
St. Vincent NWR, Apalachicola:
Public Tours of St. Vincent Island. Tour limited to 28 people,
must make reservations by calling 850-653-8808.
14-Saturday, October 16:
Piedmont NWR, Round Oak:
14th Annual Hunt for Wheelchair-Bound Participants. Volunteers
needed to scout hunt spots prior to October 14th, assist hunters
during hunt and in the campground and assist with general camp
A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR,
Early Bird Walk, 7:30 a.m. – Meet at the Marsh Trail to learn
about the various birds on the refuge. Canoeing the Everglades,
8 – 10 a.m. – Meet at the Boat Ramp parking lot. Must
bring own canoe and have some experience. Reservations required
by calling 561-734-8303.Children’s Story and Craft Hour, 2
p.m. – Meet at the Visitor Center. For children 5-8 accompanied
by adult. Reservations required by calling 561-734-8303.
Chassahowitzka NWR, Crystal River:
Tenth Annual Wildlife Refuge Week Celebration, 10:00am - 4:00pm,
with a Cherokee Indian blessing ceremony beginning at 9:00am.
Free boat tours, wildlife and refuge information, conservation
displays, children’s interactive environmental education
activities, face painting, and live acoustic music throughout
Black Bayou Lake NWR, Farmerville:
“Fall Celebration,” Friends of Black Bayou Lake NWR
Event: 9 AM – 2 PM, includes groundbreaking for Wetlands
Learning Center at 10:30 am.
Cat Island NWR,
Friends Field Day sponsored by Friends of Cat Island. Tours to
the National Champion Baldcypress tree will be given. Hot dogs
and sodas will be available, 10AM to 4PM.
St. Catherine Creek NWR, near Natchez:
Kid's Fishing Rodeo, 7:00am to 11:00am
October 16 & Sunday, October 17
Wheeler NWR, Decatur:
Southern Wildlife Festival. Annual wildlife art festival held
at the local community college. A refuge informational booth will
be available, as well as, tours of the refuge. Rangers will present
several wildlife programs during the two-day event.
Cedar Key and Lower Suwannee NWR, Chiefland:
Refuge Open House, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Public welcome
to tour the Cedar Key Lighthouse and participate in the various
activities. Tours of the historic lighthouse, exhibits, touch
tanks with marine critters will entertain and enlighten kids and
adults alike. Transportation must be obtained from concessionaires
or private vessels.
Big Lake NWR, Manila:
Community Day, 10:00AM to 2:00PM; the Friends and staff will celebrate
with live raptors, poster contest, displays and birding walks.
St. Marks NWR:
Monarch Butterfly Festival. Welcome the Monarch Migration through
our region. Come find out what wildflowers to plant in your yard.
Food and activities 9AM-4PM.
Yazoo NWR, Hollandale:
Great Delta Bear Affair. Third annual festival. Purpose is to
promote black bear conservation as well as local tourism. FWS
is one of many community, government, and corporate partners sponsoring
Wings Over Water Festival
Alligator River NWR in Manteo, and Pocosin Lakes
NWR in Columbia:
Canoeing, birding trips, lectures. Visit www.wingsoverwater.org
for complete program.
Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible
for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and
their habitats for the cointinuing benefit of the American people. The
Service manages the National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses
544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other
special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries,
64 fishery resources offices and 84 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 and Native American tribal governments
with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance
program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise
taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286