National Wildlife Refuge System

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Yellow-crowned night herons
Visitors ogle sandhill cranes at the annual Ridgefield Birdfest and Bluegrass Festival in Washington state. The festival takes place this year Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11.
Credit: Friends of the Ridgefield NWR


Enjoy Fall Events on Refuges

A world of seasonal wonders awaits you this fall at a National Wildlife Refuge. The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world's premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants. There is A National Wildlife Refuge within an hour's drive of most major cities.

Here is a sampling of early fall events:

Go Multicultural

Saturday, September 26, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. − Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, Washington

Take in a multicultural celebration of the history, economy and environment of the Nisqually River Watershed at the annual Nisqually Watershed Festival. Highlights include tribal drumming and dancing, bagpipers and live animal shows. Kids can take part in critter parades, make salmon art, step inside a 30–foot mock salmon and see the world from the perspective of a salmon, and peer at Sound creatures inside a live touch tank. Other events include guided walks and tours and the famous Nisqually Salmon Bake.

For more information: or 360–753–9467.

Flock to a Birding Festival

September 23–27 − National Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Celebrate the 11th Annual Florida Keys Birding and Wildlife Festival as it offers a multitude of activities for all. Take a wildlife photography trip at Crane Point Hammock with featured wildlife photographers Dick Fortune and Sarah Lopez. Then, enjoy a multimedia program on native plants. Participate in a guided birding trip of the Dry Tortugas, part of the refuge.

Enjoy an environmental fair with activities for the family at Curry Hammock State Park.

For a complete list of events, visit: For more information on the refuge: or 305–872 –2239.

Collect Seeds for National Public Lands Day

Saturday, September 26, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. − DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, Iowa

Help collect prairie seeds and participate in one of the nation's largest hands–on volunteer efforts to improve and enhance public lands.

For more information: or 712–642–2772.

Create a Bird Carving from Basswood

Saturday, September 26, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m − Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.

Join artist and master carver Bill Strickler for a lecture–demonstration of his work. Strickler's detailed wood carvings of many bird species are noted for their attention to detail and realistic settings. The artist will illustrate the steps, beginning with templates and making a pattern to create a finished work using a high–speed wood carving tool. The program is limited to 24 participants. Reservations are required.

See a New Environmental Education Center

Wednesday, October 7 − Mid–Columbia National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Washington

Celebrate the opening of the refuge complex's new Environmental Education Center. For more information: or 509–546–8300.

Restore the Land

Saturday, October 10, 9 a.m. – 12:00 (noon) − Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, Washington

Take part in a community planting day hosted by Turnbull Refuge and the Spokane Audubon Society to restore native riparian habitat to benefit birds and other wildlife species. Bring pliers and shovels, if possible.

For more information: or 509–235–4723.

Get a Rare Glimpse of a Remote Refuge

Saturday, October 17 − Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii

Take advantage of the refuge's annual open house, the sole day it's open to the public during the year. Take a guided tour of the Pua Akala area for endangered forest birds. See the Pua Akala Cabin, a renowned koa wood–framed cabin listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visit the refuge greenhouse where unique, rarely seen endangered plants can be viewed.

For more information: or 808–443–2300.

Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week
October 11–17

From the end of September through the month of October, many National Wildlife Refuges throughout the country offer events, talks and celebrations to mark National Wildlife Refuge Week. Among some of the events planned:

  • Saturday, September 26 − Fall Festival, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota. Enjoy educational programs and family activities. Photo contest winners will be displayed. 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. For more information: or 218–847–2641.

  • Friday, October 2 – Islands & Rivers of Life: A photo exhibit in Celebration of a Century of Conserving Alaska's Wildlife & Wild Lands, Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. 7:00 p.m., Wendy Williamson Auditorium, Anchorage. For more information: or 907–226–4606.

  • Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11 − Birdfest and Bluegrass Festival, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Enjoy owl walks, sandhill crane sunrise tours, kayak tours plus indoor and outdoor music jamming sessions. For more information: or 360–887–3883.

  • Sunday, October 11 − "Big Sit," Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. Mark off a 17 – foot diameter circle, sit down and identify all the birds you see or hear during a 24 – hour (or less) period. The event is at the Champion Lake pier, 7:00 a.m. to sunset. For more information: or 936–336–9786.

  • Sunday, October 11 − "Big Sit," Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Indiana. For more information: or 812–522–4352

  • Sunday, October 11 − "Big Sit," Red River Red River National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana. For more information: or 318–742–1219

  • Saturday, October 17 − Annual Fall Celebration, Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana. Enjoy family activities and free fried fish dinners. For more information: or 318–387–1114.

  • Saturday, October 17 − Annual Wild Things Festival, Southeast Louisiana Refuges, Lacombe. Attend a festival showcasing eight National Wildlife Refuges. The festival features speakers, live animals, wildlife crafts, live entertainment, gardens and grounds tours. Children's highlights include the Youth Wildlife Art Show, orienteering, decoy painting and nature crafts. Wild Things also features canoe and pontoon boat tours of Bayou Lacombe. For more information: or contact Byron Fortier at 985–882–2025.

  • Saturday, October 17 − Refuge Roundup, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado. Celebrate Western heritage by learning archery, taking a lesson in roping and wrangling, seeing historic re – enactments and enjoying music and dance performances. Call ahead to reserve space on hayrides and bison tours. For more information: or 303–289–0930.

Take Part in Regionally Famous Festival

November 3–8 − Outer Banks, North Carolina

Join other nature enthusiasts at the 13th Annual Wings Over Water Wildlife Festival, featuring birding trips to National Wildlife Refuges (Mackay Island, Pea Island, Ocracoke, Mattamuskeet and Alligator River) as well as opportunities to learn more about history, animal habitat and wildlife photography. The festival is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carolina Bird Club, Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, Roanoke Island Festival Park and Outer Banks Sentinel. For more information, visit to download a registration form or call 252–216–9464 to order a program book with trip descriptions.

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