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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


                                                72nd and Quebec Street, Commerce City, Colorado

February 26, 2003

Contact: Christine Vigil (303)289-0869
                Deserai Anderson-Utley (303) 236-4386


To mark the 100th birthday of the National Wildlife Refuge System, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge will join with hundreds of other refuges around the nation as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Refuge Centennial Celebration on March 14, 2003.

The media is invited to visit Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge for an afternoon of celebration and commemoration. Dignitaries will speak on behalf of the National Wildlife Refuge System about the importance of wildlife conservation. Highlights of the ceremony include a dedication of a refuge time capsule and a scholarship awards ceremony for the winners of a high school essay contest. The afternoon will be capped off with a tour of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, which promises to provide spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities. The refuge will host a public Centennial celebration on Saturday, March 15th. Call for reservations, space is limited!

When: Friday, March 14th, 1:00pm (Open to media ONLY)

Saturday, March 15th, 12:30-3:30pm [Open to the public by reservation. Call (303)289-0930.]

Where: Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, 72nd and Quebec Street, west gate

Hundreds of other refuges around the nation will be celebrating along with Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge on March 14th. Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida will lead the celebration as the first National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1903. Many of the refuges will dedicate time capsules containing items such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife artifacts, refuge history, essays from school children on the importance of their local refuge, and seeds and pelts from the species that live on refuges. Additional activities will be on going throughout the year at refuges across the nation in celebration of the Centennial. "This national celebration is truly a special occasion to celebrate a century of conservation and the many peoplewho have made the Refuge System a success," said Ralph Morgenweck, Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region. "Refuges help protect threatened and endangered species, provide recreation to thousands of Americans, help the economies of local communities, and provide wild places for future generations to enjoy- come help us celebrate this year!"

On March 14, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt established the first National Wildlife Refuge at Pelican Island, Fla., to help protect a colony of brown pelicans. Over the past 100 years, more than 540 National Wildlife Refuges have been established in the United States. The Refuge System is the world’s only network of lands dedicated primarily to protecting wildlife and their habitats. Refuges comprise over 94 million acres of land in all 50 states, with a refuge within driving distance of most major cities. From tiny Pelican Island, the Refuge System has grown to encompass hundreds of unique, spectacular, and truly wild places that harbor diverse species.

Currently, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal is undergoing an extensive environmental cleanup of the site’s soil, structures, and groundwater. Cleanup plans were developed and approved by the Army, the state of Colorado, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Shell Oil Company and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Once cleanup is complete, the Arsenal’s vast open spaces will officially transition to one of the nation’s premier, urban wildlife refuge. The site now provides sanctuary for more than 300 species of animals, including deer, coyotes, bald eagles, and burrowing owls.

Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge, Denver’s other urban refuge, also will host a Centennial celebration on the morning of March 14th. This event is open to media and invited dignitaries only. The celebration will begin at 10:00 am at the Refuge located at 80th and Kipling in Arvada. Please come and help the refuges celebrate 100 years of conservation!

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, which encompasses 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 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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