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Open Spaces

A Talk on the Wild Side.

Making the Outdoors More Accessible — and Fun — for All Americans

By: Joan Moody, senior public affairs specialist, DOI

Mud Pond Trail has attracted a lot of accolades for a short trail in the White Mountains Region of New Hampshire little more than half a mile long.  Located in the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, Mud Pond became a tiny part of the nation’s first National Blueway — the huge Connecticut River watershed — in May 2012.

Hubert Gall REALLY enjoys the universally accessible Mud Pond Trail in New Hampshire. Photo by Ursula Gall.

A year later, on May 31, 2013, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis honored Mud Pond and other trails in the country as national recreation trails, adding a total of 650 miles to the National Trails System.   

But what visitor Hubert Gall and his family love most about Mud Pond Trail is the universal accessibility for those in wheelchairs, like Hubert. "A concerted effort involving volunteers and government oversight is making it possible for physically impaired individuals to get back in touch with nature," Gall says.


Go Wild for Wildlife This Valentine's Day

By Susan Morse, USFWS

Going all out for your honey on Valentine’s Day?

Prepare to be outdone. When it comes to over-the-top courtship displays, we humans are kinda tame. There’s just no competing with love in the wild.

chickenMale Attwater’s prairie chicken inflate air sacks on their necks and make a 'booming' sound when they want to attract a female. (Photo: George Lavendowski/USFWS)

Want proof? Watch this!


National Wildlife Refuges Renew the Land

By Susan Morse

The refuge whose beauty awes you may once have been an arsenal, a waste dump or abandoned farm field. National Wildlife Refuge Week, Oct. 14-20, is a fine time to learn how national wildlife refuges renew damaged land and make it flourish again.

In the Midwest, staff at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa and the Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa and Minnesota are engaged in two of the world’s largest restorations of tallgrass prairie. They’re cultivating native plants that once covered the Plains before over-plowing depleted the soil, worsened seasonal flooding and nearly wiped out many species. Through their efforts, the land is returning to health and again sustaining bison, elk, butterflies and grassland birds.

sawtooth-sunflowerThe Sawtooth sunflower is also known as the 'thick-toothed sunflower". This native perennial wildflower can reach up to 12 feet tall. (Photo: USFWS)


What's Up with the National Wildlife Refuge System?

There is a lot of news about our National Wildlife Refuge System this week!

bison(Bison graze on the prairie at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. Photo: USFWS)

Rise in Activity

For instance, did you know that participation in wildlife-associated recreation has increased in 28 states since 2006?


Implementing the Refuge Vision

Remember our entries on Open Spaces last summer from the Conserving the Future Conference in Madison? Well, charting a bright future for the National Wildlife Refuge System didn’t stop there. Here’s an update on the implementation of the vision document that came out of the conference.

Transparency was a driving principle when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed Conserving the Future as the vision that will guide the National Wildlife Refuge System for the next decade.  That same transparency is evident as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service begins implementing the vision. 

Implementation Plan Cover


5 Things you Need to Know About Wetlands

World Wetlands Day occurs each year on February 2 to highlight the importance of wetlands to animals and people around the globe.  It celebrates the day the Ramsar Wetlands Convention was signed in 1971 (the Convention celebrated its 40th Anniversary last year).  The Wetlands Convention promotes the conservation and wise use of wetlands through international cooperation. Today, 1,994 Ramsar sites covering more than 474 million acres have been designated as Wetlands of International Importance.

ChincoteagueChincoteague National Wildlife Refuge


My Day With a Wolf Pack

It’s not often someone gets a chance to spend the day with a pack of wolves, but one of our co-workers, Roya Mogadam (Office of Congessional & Legislative Affairs) did, and she’s here on Open Spaces to tell you about what she took away from that experience.

On the outskirts of San Isabel National Forest is a sanctuary perched atop a steep hill at the end of a mile long dirt driveway.  It’s called Mission: Wolf, a rescue facility with 37 wolves and wolf-dogs.

I visited on a Saturday, a “big feed” day.

Raven howlingRaven howls as feeding time nears at Mission: Wolf


Photo Tour: Winter Wonderland

Today marks the offical first day of the winter solstice!  

To celebrate, we've put together a photo tour of some beautiful shots taken around the country. So sit back, curl up with a warm cup of cocoa, and enjoy the winter sights without stepping foot out into the cold!

Deer in SnowBuck in snow, Photo Rich Keen/RMA


The Weekly Wrap: November 27 - December 3

Is it hard to believe we're already in the last month of 2011?  The end of another week means another weekly wrap.  Here are the things we've been talking about on at Open Spaces, check them out if you didn't get to see them the first time around!

Rabbit Rescue at San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge

Did you get a chance to read the tale of a riparian brush rabbit rescue along the San Joaquin River? 

Rabbit Rescue


Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of November 28th

The weather may be getting colder, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything to do outside! Here are some of the events happening at refuges across the country this week.  As always, make sure you head over to the Refuge System's homepage and use their searchable map to find a Wildlife Refuge near you!

Let's go outside!

First Snow at SunsetThe season's first snow at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, ND on Nov. 7, 2011


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