Facebook icon Twitter icon Flicker icon You Tube icon

Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

What's a National Wildlife Refuge?

As someone who works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I’m occasionally asked about what a National Wildlife Refuge is.  My first response is always, "well, it's sort of like a park, but different."

That is, of course, true, but I always want to give more of an explanation.  So, without further adieu, here it is:

Within the Department of the Interior, you’ll find both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – which manages national wildlife refuges -- and National Park Service – which manages national parks.  Both work toward preservation of our natural world, but, there are differences.

Arctic Refuge AlaskaThinking on a mountain at Arctic Refuge in Alaska Photo: Steve Chase/USFWS


Photo Tour: More Scenes from Fall

Can you believe we're nearly to the end of November?  Migrations are well underway, colorful leaves are dropping, and snow may even be starting to fall where you are.

But before we make the transition into winter, we'd like to take you on another fall photo tour. What's your favorite thing about fall?

The colors?  

The smells?  

The sounds of ducks over head or leaves crunching underfoot?

Whatever it may be, we hope these images alerts your senses and you can get away for just a moment.  Enjoy!

Orange leaves on a blue skySycamore Tree on the Phelan Island Unit on Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge Photo: Justine Belson/USFWS


Accessing America’s Great Outdoors: Disabled Hunters Have the Hunt of a Lifetime

Tina Shaw is a public affairs specialist for National Wildlife Refuges and the Office of Law Enforcement in the Midwest Region. She recently relocated to the Midwest from Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge where she worked in Visitor Services. Her interests include natural science illustration and photography.

Physical challenges change your life forever, but they do not have to take away your passion, your grace, or your spirit. Over Veterans Day weekend, I had the opportunity to meet a group of hunters who followed this mindset, regardless of the terrain they traveled in life.

The former Savanna Army Depot, now the Lost Mound Unit of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Savanna, Ill. was the backdrop for a special deer hunt for sportsmen with disabilities. Assembling in the early morning hours, long before sun up, 25 hunters and their assistants layered in blaze orange readied their blinds for the hunt.

Quadriplegic hunter Terry Greenwood and Registered Nurse Doug DaltonQuadriplegic hunter Terry Greenwood and Registered Nurse Doug Dalton from Ohio. Greenwood maneuvers his specially mounted gun on target by manipulating a controller box with his chin. When a deer was in the crosshairs, he blew through a tube to engage an electronic trigger to fire the shotgun. Photo by Tina Shaw/USFWS.


5 Green Building Projects from our National Wildlife Refuge System

We are going green.  Did you know that we're working to make our facilities, our vehicles--and everything else for that mattter--completely carbon neutral in just 8 years?  It's true!  

To meet our 2020 goal, we're designing, building, and refurbishing in a way that cuts our reliance on greenhouse gases and saves taxpayer dollars

Here are five (now award winning) sustainable design projects from around the Refuge System that you probably didn’t know about. If you live in the area, be sure to check them out in person!

Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge

This Sudbury, Massachusetts Refuge now boats 5,879 square-foot sustainably designed visitor center. The building features passive solar architecture, a cool roof, daylighting and much more. The 19 megawatt-hours of renewable power generated offsets 13.1 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Low flow plumbing fixtures and waterless urinals conserve 3,000 gallons of water a year. 


Thank You, Veterans!

Nearly 1,400 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees are military veterans, many of whom continue to serve in Reserve and National Guard units across the country.  These people who once sacrificed for our country now use their skills in the cause of conservation. We thank each one of our veterans, and honor their service to our nation. 

Below, are some pictures and a little bit of information about a few of these men and women.  If you're interested in seeing more, check out this flickr slideshow for many more images of our veterans.

Joe Witt

Joe Witt, a Course Leader/Wildlife Biologist with the Branch of Conservation Science and Policy at the National Conservation Training Center, served with the Marine Corps from 1966 to 1969 in Vietnam, Cuba (GTMO), California and North Carolina. He rose to Lance Corporal and received a purple heart.


Self-Discovery and Solitude in the Wilderness

Monica Patel is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wilderness Fellow who worked this year at Great Swamp and Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuges in New Jersey and Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine. She has a master’s degree in environmental management from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University  

What does “wilderness” mean to you?  You’ve got to love this answer, credited to a 16th-century European settler:  

a “dark and dismal place where all manner of wild beasts dash about uncooked.” 

In recent decades, most of us have grown more appreciative of the country’s last remaining wild places.

Lately, I have been thinking about how I view wilderness. It all started with a hike into the woods.


Why I Hunt

This post comes from Joshua Winchell, coordinator for the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, in honor of National Hunting and Fishing Day.

Hunters have provided hundreds of billions of dollars in economic benefit to our country, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. The survey has been conducted every five years since 1955 and measures the participation and expenditures of our nation’s hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers.

And this same survey indicates that hunting participation in America has flatlined.

Hunting at sunset


Where We Stand: The Lacey Act and our Law Enforcement Work

There have been many allegations and rumors in news reports about an investigation that involves the Gibson Guitar Corporation. While we can’t comment on the specifics of this or any ongoing investigation, we want to correct misrepresentations that have been reported in the media. 

First, every law enforcement investigation undertaken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is initiated and overseen by law enforcement professionals, following all legal procedures. Our law enforcement efforts focus on illegal activities that represent a threat to wildlife and plant resources.