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Information iconA bison grazes at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver. (Photo: Ian Shive/USFWS)

Tuesday, September 29 is Urban National Wildlife Refuge Day, which recognizes urban national wildlife refuges for enriching the lives of Americans and their communities.

For the 80 percent of Americans who live in or near cities, urban national wildlife refuges provide vital access to nature and outdoor recreation, boosting residents’ physical and psychological well-being. Urban wildlife refuges also promote local economies.  

Among the 101 urban refuges offering Americans nearby wildlife viewing and outdoor recreation, including hiking, hunting and fishing, are refuges near Albuquerque, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis and San Diego and a refuge within the city limits of Philadelphia. Another 30 urban wildlife refuge partnerships provide nature-based recreation to people who live within 25 miles of an area with a population of more than 250,000. Urban refuge partnerships are active in cities including Baltimore, Chicago, and Houston.

National wildlife refuges are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

People thrive on nature, wherever they live. Learn more about the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program.

Video: Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge near New Orleans is a rocking place.

2020 Events

Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges  
Friday, September 25 – Sunday, October 4 
A Week of Virtual Activities: (Facebook and Website): Highlights will include virtual trail hikes at Bayou Sauvage and Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuges, and moments of meditation in nature. Posts will also showcase some refuge partners.
Partners: Friends of Louisiana Wildlife Refuges, Inc., Louisiana Outdoors Outreach Program of New Orleans, University of New Orleans, Common Ground Relief 

Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida 
Saturday, September 26, 9 a.m. to noon 
Weed Pull and Trash Cleanup: Help pull weeds around the butterfly gardens near the refuge visitor center and remove trash along the refuge's main road. These activities will be by registration and socially distanced.

Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico
Saturday, September 26, beginning at 10 a.m.
Virtual Tour, Celebration and Debut of Community Heritage Art Display:  See decorative tiles produced by community members and artists for a mosaic behind the welcome desk of the refuge’s new visitor center, scheduled to open this winter. Learn from the Friends of Valle de Oro Refuge how you can make your own tile for the mosaic. The mosaic will feature 105 pieces of community art, each representing the creator's connection to nature in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. Also planned: a virtual tour of the refuge.
Partners: Ideum, Friends of Valle de Oro

Baltimore Rivers to Harbor Urban Refuge Partnership, Masonville Cove, Maryland
Saturday, September 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Kayak Trips and a BioBlitz: Register for a two-hour kayak trip starting at either 9 a.m or 1 p.m. The number of kayakers will be capped to meet city mandates during the pandemic. Hand-washing stations will be set up near the porta-potty. Mini hand sanitizer bottles will be distributed to kayakers by the National Aquarium. The National Aquarium will also provide BioBlitz backpacks for registered family groups to explore nature. Backpacks will be sanitized between use.
Partners: The Maryland Port Administration, the National Aquarium, Living Classroom Foundation.

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, New York 
Saturday, September 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
2020 Adventure Hunt Buffalo: Register to take part in a team competition geared toward 18-34 year-olds in this multi-cultural celebration. Teams of two will compete for points at different activities to become Urban Conservation Champions. Activities will relate to outdoor recreation, culture and history, conservation and wildlife. By reservation only. Main location: Red Jacket River Front Park, 20 Smith St. Buffalo.
Partners: Grassroots Gardens of Western New York, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, Buffalo Ornithological Society, Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Friends of Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, Inc.

Nisqually River Council and Nisqually River Foundation, Washington 
Saturday, September 26, beginning at 10 a.m. 
Nisqually Watershed Virtual FestivalJoin the 31st annual celebration of the Puget Sound region’s environmental and cultural treasures, livestreamed to YouTube. Go behind the scenes at habitat restoration projects and try hands-on science and art activities from home. Learn to make a salmon print. Watch a beach seine. “Visit” Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Share your own photos, artwork and stories about what the Nisqually Watershed means to you. 
Partners: Nisqually Indian Tribe, Tacoma Public Utilities,The Nisqually Reach Nature Center, Friends of Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Saturday, September 26 – Saturday, October 3
Virtual Debut of New Nature Play Area: All week, short video vignettes will highlight elements of the new play area at Old Cedar Avenue to increase community awareness of nearby nature activities. Interpretive signs are posted in three languages — English, Spanish and Somali — to better reach diverse neighborhood communities. At week’s end, a virtual unveiling ceremony will alert our communities that the Nature Play Area is open for them to explore! 

Participating refuges and hatcheries
Saturday, September 26 – Sunday, October 4
National Virtual Fishing Derby:  Sign up to take part in a week of virtual fishing activities and share your catch with others across the country. Find a refuge or hatchery where you can go fishing and get fishing tips here.  
Partners: Urban American Outdoors & SODAS LIFE.  

Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Sunday, September 27, 4 p.m.
Zoom History Presentation: Join Ceal Craig, president of the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society, for a dive into the history of Drawbridge, a ghost town that once occupied an island along the South San Francisco Bay. Register here.
Partners: The San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society, and the Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program.

Lenape National Wildlife Refuge Complex, New Jersey
Tuesday, September 29
Video Compilation on Facebook: See what urban youth partners from Groundwork Hudson Valley (in Yonkers, N.Y.) and Groundwork Elizabeth (in Elizabeth, N.J.) say about their experiences on refuges this summer.
Partners: Groundwork Hudson Valley and Groundwork Elizabeth.

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, Michigan  
Starting Tuesday, September 29  
Engaging Northern Neighbors Around Citizen Science: Most Shiawassee Refuge sightings on the nature app iNaturalist take place on southern portions of the refuge and Wildlife Drive. Urban National Wildlife Refuge Day will serve as a call to action to engage the northern parts of the refuge. This year, the refuge will ask visitors to report at least two sightings in the north end. This area includes the Green Point/Germania area and the Woodland Trail — urban areas often overlooked despite diverse fauna and flora.

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, California
Friday, October 2, at 2 p.m.
Zoom Panel Discussion “Connecting and Engaging with Community through Nature”: To highlight community members, especially those in the SoCal Urban Project, the refuge will host an hour-long panel discussion with representatives of five partner organizations. Partners will discuss their efforts, the community they work with, and how outdoor spaces like urban refuges help carry out their mission. The aim is to connect and engage with people who are looking to get involved with the outdoor community but need some help to get started. See new videos on the refuge’s social media pages about the five SoCal Urban Project partners.
Partners: Outdoor Outreach, Ocean Connectors, Earth Discovery Institute, San Diego City College Audubon Club, and Latino Outdoors San Diego Chapter.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington 
Friday, October 2 and Saturday, October 3  
Birdfest & Bluegrass Festival: Home Edition: The virtual festival celebrates all that the refuge means to the community, as well as the return of the iconic sandhill cranes. Learn about the culture and history of the area and how it influences modern care of the land. Pick up some new birding skills. The festival is hosted by the Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. 
Partners: City of Ridgefield, Columbia Gorge Refuge Stewards, Valadrian Creative + Consulting LLC, Vancouver Audubon. 

Patuxent Research Refuge, Maryland
Saturday, October 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Pollinator Event: Attend a pollinator event at the National Wildlife Visitor Center, 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop, in Laurel. Leave your mark in a section of the parking lot set aside for chalk art. Enjoy snacks from a food truck, live music and take-home craft and native seed packets.

Video“Not Your Typical Refuge”


Information iconDetroit River International Wildlife Refuge, just south of Detroit. (Photo: Ian Shive/USFWS)