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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Wisdom is Back at Midway Atoll!

Last year she made headlines for surviving the tsunami.  Now, Wisdom, is back in the news.

She’s made her way back to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific, and she’s incubating an egg!

Wisdom the Laysan Albatross incubating an EggTaken December 1, 2011, Wisdom is back an incubating an egg!

Why is this such a big news?  Well, if you didn't know, Wisdom is world’s oldest Laysan albatross. The average lifespan for albatrosses ranges from 12 to 40 years.

Wisdom is at least 61.


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.


Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events Week of November 1

The National Wildlife Refuge System has 555 refuges across the country, which means there’s always something going on! Each week, we feature some of the events on our Facebook or Twitter pages, but now we’re bringing them to you here as an easier way to access them in one place. Check out our list each week for ideas on what to do outside.

Go out and experience nature – then share with us what you did and what you thought!

Biking on nature trails at a Refuge


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.


A Look Back: C.S. Johnson

Every so often it's good to look into the past to revisit the people who got us where we are today. Looking Back is a new series on the people who helped shape the National Wildlife Refuge System. The series is based on "A Look Back," a regular column written by Karen Leggett, from the Refuge System Branch of Communications, which appears in each issue of the Refuge Update newsletter.

“On the whole, it is our impression that a lot of people here have a whopping good time in the out of doors…”

You could count on C.S. Johnson to season his required refuge reports with a sprinkling of humor and plain language:


Everything You Need to Know about National Public Lands Day

In just over a week, Americans across the country will participate in the largest single-day volunteer event in the country – National Public Lands Day.

When National Public Lands Day started in 1994, about 700 volunteers took part in the event.  Since then, it has  continued to grow.  Last year about 170,000 volunteers worked at over 2,080 sites nationwide.


If you’ve never  heard of the event, or don’t know where you can go to volunteer, don’t worry.  Here’s the information you need to get involved:


Looking Back: Spotlight on Ira Gabrielson

Every so often it's good to look into the past to revisit the people who got us where we are today. Looking Back is a new series on the people who helped shape the National Wildlife Refuge System. The series is based on "A Look Back," a regular column written by Karen Leggett, from the Refuge System Branch of Communications, which appears in each issue of the Refuge Update newsletter.

“When I learned there were actually jobs where people were paid for studying birds and mammals, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.”

-Ira Gabrielson

Ira Noel Gabrielson devoted his life not only to studying animals but also to protecting them and conserving their habitats. Born in Sioux Rapids, Iowa, “Dr. Gabe” began working with the Bureau of Biological Survey in 1915.  

He replaced J.N “Ding” Darling as director of the Survey in 1935, and when the Survey and the Bureau of Fisheries became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1940, Gabrielson became its first director.  Six years later, he left the Service to head the Wildlife Management Institute and later helped to organize and preside over the World Wildlife Fund.

Gabrielson releasing a duck


Take a Photo Tour

If you didn't know, every region has a Flickr page with some great imagery - so does our National Digital Library (along with lots of other cool things).  Here's a quick photo tour of our regions. Enjoy!

These Mexican spotted owls, listed as threatened, rest in a canyon in Utah, in the Mountain Prairie Region. Rock walls with caves, ledges, and other areas provide protected nest and roost sites. 

Mexican Spotted OwlsPhoto Credit: Amie Smith


Putting a Stamp on Conservation

The Federal Duck Stamp.  To be honest, before I started working here, I really didn’t know much about it.  Maybe you’re like me, and you don’t know there’s a national art contest to create the new Duck Stamp each year.   If you’re an artist, you may want to consider creating something for the contest.  While time might be running a little thin to submit something this year (entries must be postmarked by midnight on August 15th), maybe you’ll consider entering next year.

2011 Duck StampCurrent Duck Stamp, Artist: James Hautman

What’s the purpose of the Duck Stamp, though?  Of course art contests can be fun, but here’s what it is all about.  Aside from being required for hunting waterfowl, the Duck Stamp serves as a very important conservation tool.  Ninety-eight cents of every dollar generated from Duck Stamps goes directly to buy or lease wetlands for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System, making the Duck Stamp one of the best dollar-for-dollar investments in the future of America’s wetlands.


Conserving the Future through Science and Partnerships

This week Open Spaces is featuring posts from our new Director, Dan Ashe. Dan will be blogging live from the Conserving the Future Conference currently underway in Madison, Wisconsin.

Yesterday was an energizing, inspiring first day of the Conserving the Future conference for the National Wildlife Refuge System.  Many themes have been emerging from the conference so far and I want to take today’s blog to talk about two that I thought were particularly notable and important. 

The first is the use of science. The Service has a long, distinguished history of using the best available science in our decisions and our ability to have access to the best science is more important than ever. 


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