Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

National Wildlife Refuge Week Time to Connect With Nature

September 4, 2007


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

Hearing wolves howl, tagging monarch butterflies, snapping pictures of soaring eagles, or just walking in the woods, thousands of Americans will be making a special connection with nature during National Wildlife Refuge Week, taking place October 7-13, 2007.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, with 548 national wildlife refuges nationwide, protects approximately 97 million acres of fish and wildlife habitat. Scores of national wildlife refuges are offering special programs to help celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week across the country.

The week also highlights the six wildlife-dependent recreation uses offered on national wildlife refuges: hunting, fishing, wildlife photography, wildlife observation, interpretation and environmental education. The weeklong celebration is also part of a yearlong commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of pioneering conservationist and writer Rachel Carson.

"Sixty years ago, Rachel Carson wrote that wildlife refuges provide a release from the tensions of modern life," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall. "They do that, and more. National wildlife refuges also promise outdoor adventure to children growing up in a digital age, whose idea of nature might be watching animals on television. Refuges offer the real thing."

Last year, more than 39 million people visited Americas national wildlife refuges. There is at least one national wildlife refuge in every state, and residents of most metropolitan areas can find a national wildlife refuge less than an hours drive from their front door.

The National Wildlife Refuge Systems more than 2,500 miles of land and water trails appeal to visitors who come to bird watch, fish, hunt, photograph nature, hike, or just to be outdoors.

"Once people know about the great things we do, they flock to national wildlife refuges, whether as visitors or volunteers," says National Wildlife Refuge System Chief Geoffrey L. Haskett. "We welcome them during National Wildlife Refuge Week and throughout the year."

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, which provides guidance to the Secretary of the Interior for the overall management of the Refuge System. The Act includes a "strong and singular" wildlife conservation mission for the Refuge System and recognizes that six wildlife-dependent recreational uses, when determined to be compatible, are legitimate and appropriate public uses of the Nation Wildlife Refuges.

To find a national wildlife refuge near you, go to or call 1-800-344-WILD (9453).

Among events planned across the country for National Wildlife Refuge Week are:

MARYLAND, October 6: Visitors can take eagle tours at the 12th Annual Black water National Wildlife Refuge Open House, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. On the Eastern Shore, the refuge also offers bird walks, demonstrations, wildlife and refuge management programs, wildlife exhibits, live animal exhibits, tours, Junior Refuge Manager Program, puppet show, and many childrens programs. Call 410-228-2677 or visit

MINNESOTA, October 6: At Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, 50 miles northeast of Minneapolis, the annual Wildlife Festival begins with a sunrise crane watch and ends with a simple bonfire. In between, there are horse drawn hayrides, a scavenger hunt, hands-on archery and air-rifle workshops, nature crafts and exhibits on wildflower seeds, birdhouses, furs and binoculars. The festival is held at the Old School House on County Road 9. For more information:

ARKANSAS, October 6: White River National Wildlife Refuges annual wildlife festival begins at 9 a.m. Childrens activities include birdhouse building, bird feeder making, T-shirt printing, button making, and temporary tattoos. Free boat tours are offered on the hour until 1 p.m. Wildlife programs and guided walks are scheduled throughout the day. Call 870-282-8200 or visit

LOUISIANA, October 13: Children can travel through the "Bear Maze" and follow the seasons in the life of a Louisiana black bear at the 11th annual Wild Things celebration at Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Lacombe. The event also features a childrens art show, live animals, demonstrations such as pirogue building and wildlife crafts, continuous live entertainment, gardens and grounds tours, and canoe and pontoon boat tours among the cypresses and Spanish moss on Bayou Lacombe. For more information: 985-882-2025.

TEXAS, October 13: The Ninth Annual Trinity River Butterfly Count will be held at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Texas. Butterfly counters will meet at 8 a.m. at the Exxon Gas station located on Hwy 105, two miles east of Hwy 321 (or one mile west of FM 2518). For more information: 936-336-9786.

GEORGIA October 13: At the Chesser Homestead at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, visitors can see how people lived in Southeast Georgia in the early 1900s. Learn how settlers made soap, brooms, butter, quilts, baskets, and other everyday items. Examine how settlers washed clothes, smoked meat, made pickets, and survived in and around the swamp. Sample boiled peanuts, soup, biscuits, and other items cooked on a wood-burning stove. Listen to bluegrass music, stories, and four-note singing. Enjoy horses, mules, and other livestock. Join in the games your grandparents played--musical chairs, wheelbarrow races and more. Call 912-496-3331 or visit

FLORIDA October 27: St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is all butterflies in the fall. Its daylong butterfly festival offers demonstrations of butterfly tagging, a tent filled with live butterflies, guided butterfly walks, talks, butterfly crafts for children and van tours to places where butterflies are feeding. In 2006, volunteers tagged 2,000 monarch butterflies at St. Marks. For more information: 850-925-6121.

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 97-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 548 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 fish, wildlife management 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 Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.

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