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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Create Memories for a Lifetime During Great Outdoors Month

   Charlie Wooley and Jim KurthService Midwest Region Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley, left, and Acting DirectorJim Kurth met in third grade in Ohio. Photo by Todd Harless/USFWS

By Jim Kurth

When I was growing up in Columbus, Ohio, I used to disappear with my friend Charlie Wooley and go fishing around this time of year. The fun we had together in the outdoors shaped us both – like me, Charlie has spent a lifetime in conservation, and is now the Service’s Deputy Regional Director for the Midwest Region. 

Now, my days fishing with Charlie are long gone, but the good news is that right now, there are all kinds of opportunities nationwide to fish and enjoy the outdoors with your family and friends. 

In fact, June is National Great Outdoors Month – a time when hundreds of national wildlife refuges, parks and other public lands are hosting special events and welcoming visitors in record numbers. Just recently, the President spoke about the importance of getting outside and serving as stewards of our natural resources in his proclamation recognizing the month.

Uvalde National Fish Hatchery Fishing Derby 2015Anglers try their luck at the 2015 Uvalde National Fish Hatchery Fishing Derby in Uvalde, Texas. Photo by USFWS

Whether you want to find the perfect trout stream, conquer a challenging trail, or simply spend time experiencing nature with your family, we have the perfect place near you. The Fish and Wildlife Service manages more than 560 national wildlife refuges and more than 70 fish hatcheries – many that allow fishing and hundreds within a short drive of most major cities. 

These special places encompass incredibly beautiful and diverse public lands teeming with wildlife. From the northern reaches of the Arctic to the deserts of the Southwest, the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest to the Florida Keys, we have something for everyone. 

Each year, we host more than 50 million visitors and help families and children create memories that will last a lifetime. And getting outside isn’t just fun – it helps all of us improve our health and well-being, while helping support the economies of hundreds of local communities and sustaining thousands of jobs. 

Great Outdoors Month also encompasses several other celebrations of outdoor recreation – each of which ties in with events at hundreds of refuges, hatcheries and other public lands nationwide. These include: 

  • National Trails Day® (June 3)
  • National Fishing and Boating Week (June 3-11)
  • National Get Outdoors Day (June 10)
  • National Marina Days (from Memorial Day to Labor Day); and
  • Great American Campout (all Summer) 

The Fish and Wildlife Service just kicked off our celebration of National Fishing and Boating Week. We’ll continue to highlight outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the month.  And don’t forget that hunting season is just around the corner! It’s a good time to scout out a place for your duck blind or deer stand. Hundreds of wildlife refuges will be open this fall to migratory bird and big game hunting, and there are many other hunting opportunities on public lands across the nation.

So grab your camera, walking stick and fishing pole. Strap that canoe to the top of your car and find an adventure near you!  You can find your refuge or find your fishery; find a refuge trail; find fishing events; and find other activities by refuge, including fishing, boating and camping.

So get outdoors.  Refuges and fisheries will welcome you with informative and entertaining programs and events during Great Outdoors Month and throughout the year.  

-Jim Kurth, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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