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Alligator in the grass. Photo by Steve Brooks.

Visit your southeastern National Wildlife Refuges: october 13-27, 2012

Treat yourself with a visit to a national wildlife refuge during National Wildlife Refuge Week, from October 14-20. Celebrate America’s wildlife heritage, and see what refuges are doing to conserve it.

“National wildlife refuges play a crucial role in conserving America’s wildlife legacy,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Refuges also play important roles in human communities. By providing healthy habitats for wildlife, refuges improve the air we breathe and the water we drink, improve soil quality and give protection against flooding in flood-prone areas. Jobs and businesses in local communities rely on refuges – and the visitors they attract. Refuges offer glorious and protected places to hunt, fish, hike and share the outdoors with a new generation.”

Visitors to refuges like what they find there, according to a study this year by the U.S. Geological Survey. About 90 percent of the survey’s 10,000 adult participants reported satisfaction with refuge recreation, information and education, public service and conservation. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife,” offered one respondent. “Visiting a refuge is truly a spiritual experience.”

Among the most popular activities for 45 million refuge visitors last year were wildlife viewing, bird watching, photography, hiking and auto-tour-route driving. 

Since Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has become the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing 150 million acres in 556 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

National wildlife refuges also offer world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation along 2,500 miles of land and water trails to photography and environmental education.

National Wildlife Refuge Week Highlights

Check the special events calendar for Refuge Week events. Among the events planned:

Saturday, October 13

  • Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Folkston, Georgia, Noon to 4 p.m. Visit the Chesser Island Homestead to discover how people lived in Southeast Georgia when the Refuge System was established.  Contact the refuge for more information at 1-912-496-7836, or visit
  • Southeast Louisiana Refuges, Lacombe, Louisiana, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy the annual “Wild Things in Lacombe” festival. This large annual event at the Bayou Lacombe Centre celebrates all things wild. Contact the refuge for more information at 1-985-882-2000, or visit
  • Savannah National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Savannah, Georgia, hosts a special tour of a barrier island at Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, October 13.  Once at Wassaw, participants can take part in beach ecology and bird hikes and learn all about wildlife photography.  On Sunday, October 14, refuge staff will lead an interpretive tour up the Savannah River where participants will learn all about Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and life along the river.  Contact the refuge complex for more information at 1-843-784-2468, or visit

Sunday, October 14

  • St Marks National Wildlife Refuge in St. Marks, Florida, will host The Big Sit!, an annual event in which teams count and report bird species seen or heard from a 17-foot-diameter circle.  Join the event near the lighthouse from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Contact the refuge at 1-850-925-6121 for more information or visit

Saturday, October 20

  • Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Crystal River, Florida, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Attend a Refuge Day event at Three Sisters Springs. Enjoy live music, birding boat tours, a whooping crane kite show, wildlife puppets and drums caravan, educational booths, crafts and interpretive tours.  Contact the refuge for more information at 1-352-563-2088 or visit
  • Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, in Cedar Key, Florida, hosts an Open House.  Visit Cedar Keys Light Station with period-dress historians telling of the light’s history as well as the lives of some light keepers. Go for a walk on the beach, using a spotting scope to observe bird behavior, photographing wildlife and the light station.  Contact the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge Complex for more information at 1-352-493-0238, or visit

Saturday, October 27

  • St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Natchez, Mississippi, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Educational stations will be set up around the refuge’s headquarters to learn various topics, such as GPS, black bears, pond discoveries, etc. Guided canoe tours will be offered (reservations required). Winning photography from the annual photography contest will be on display. Free hot dogs and water will be provided to all participants.  Contact the refuge for more information at 1-601-442-6696 or visit


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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