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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Let's Go Outside! Featured Refuge Events for the Week of November 14th

We're back with another round of events taking place at our Refuges this week around the country. 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!

                                     Sunset at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland


Canines Remembered for Valiant Service

As we take time to honor our veterans, we may also remember those who serve on four legs.  Just in time for Veterans Day, a group of veteran K-9 handlers has found the original records on two Army dogs buried on land now owned by the Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland.

Falko and Rinnie were both Sentry Dogs. That means they protected the bases where they were stationed, alerting their handlers to anything out of the ordinary. 

Phil Carroll, a Service retiree and now the president of the Vietnam Security Police Association, served with an Air Force Sentry Dog named Tina. As he says, “On our posts guarding the perimeter of the bases with their millions of dollars worth of combat aircraft, sleeping aircrews, late-working flight crews and support staff, Tina and I were a perfect team. I trusted her without reservation to tell me if anyone or anything approached in the night – she trusted me to keep her safe and healthy, and to understand and react appropriately to her alerts."

Phil Carroll and his dog, Tina


Fee Free Days 2012: The Big Dates that You Need to Know

Everyone likes free, right?  Today, the Department of the Interior announced the 2012 federal fee free (try saying that three times) days on public lands like National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges.  

While many of us are just getting into the autumnal mood, 2012 is right around the corner. It's never too early to start planning that dream family vacation or reflective long weekend in the outdoors.


Looking Back: Spotlight on Rudolph Dieffenbach

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.


Rudolph Dieffenbach acquired more land for American wildlife than any other figure before or after his era.  Born in 1884 in Westminster, MD, Dieffenbach spent 44 years working for the federal government, 27 of them for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


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.


Up in Flames: Wildfire on a Refuge

By June 2011, more acres had burned from wildfires across the country than in all of 2010. The following is a look at one of those wildfires, still raging in Georgia at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. In the Southeast Region, 258 fires have started this year on nearly three dozen national wildlife refuges. A total of about 432,000 acres have burned, the vast majority in the Okefenokee.

It started with a bolt of lightning that hit the swamp at 9 a.m. on April 30. More than three months later, fire is still on the move in the water-starved Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. About three-quarters of the refuge have burned, totaling more than 300,000 acres.

An active fire.An active fire.  Image Credit: Howard McCullough


How you can Follow the Conserving the Future Conference Online

Well, it's almost here. The Conserving the Future for the Next Generation Conference being held from July 10th-14th in Madison, Wisconsin is only days away. During the conference, a new vision for the Refuge System will finally be ratified.  Learn more about the conference at http://americaswildlife.org.

All next week, scores of break–out sessions, workshops and lectures will be held, along with plenary sessions for the 1,200 people gathered at the Monona Terrace Community and Conference Center. The good news is that you don't have to be in Madison to participate. Using a variety of online and social technologies, we'll be working hard to bring the conference directly to you, no matter where you are.