Newsroom Midwest Region

Get Out and Explore America’s Great Outdoors

National Wildlife Refuge Week: October 14-20, 2012

This week the National Wildlife Refuge System is celebrating America’s wildlife heritage across the country with special public events, tours and educational opportunities. We welcome you to get out and enjoy these special places and learn about what wildlife refuge staff and our partners are doing to conserve your wild lands and waters for future generations.

In addition to these special events, we will be highlighting some of the great conservation efforts going on across the Midwest Region this week. Tune in all week for stories from the field and learn more about the great work that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is doing for you every day on refuges and wetland management districts.

“National wildlife refuges play a crucial role in conserving America’s wildlife legacy,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Refuges also play important roles in human communities. By providing healthy habitats for wildlife, refuges improve the air we breathe and the water we drink, improve soil quality and give protection against flooding in flood-prone areas. Jobs and businesses in local communities rely on refuges – and the visitors they attract. Refuges offer glorious and protected places to hunt, fish, hike and share the outdoors with a new generation.”

Visitors to refuges like what they find there, according to a study this year by the U.S. Geological Survey. Nearly 90 percent of the 10,000 adult participants surveyed expressed satisfaction with refuge recreation, information and education, public service and conservation. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife,” offered one respondent. “Visiting a refuge is truly a spiritual experience.”

Among the most popular activities for 45 million refuge visitors last year were wildlife viewing, bird watching, photography, hiking and auto-tour-route driving. 

Since Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has become the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing 150 million acres in 556 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

National wildlife refuges also offer world-class recreation, from fishing and hunting to wildlife observation and photography along 2,500 miles of land and water trails.

National Wildlife Refuge Week Highlights
Check the special events calendar for Refuge Week events. Among the events planned:

  • Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge, IL, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    Enjoy a “Ride the Refuge” tour. The eight-mile auto tour begins at Eagle Bluff Access Area and finishes at refuge headquarters.
  • Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    Take a guided canoe tour along the Old Cache Channel. Meet: Cache Levee Access.
    For reservations, call (618) 634-2231, beginning September 13.

Sunday, October 14:
Scores of refuges will once again host The Big Sit!, an annual event in which teams count and report bird species seen or heard from a 17-foot-diameter circle. Participating refuges include:  

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

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