National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 9th-15th 2011

It’s the middle of National Wildlife Refuge Week—have you been out to celebrate America’s wildlife heritage? Theodore Roosevelt designated the first wildlife refuge at Pelican Island off the eastern coast of Florida in 1903. Since then, over 150 million acres (more than 540 national wildlife refuges!) have been set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, plant species, and their habitats for the benefit of future generations of Americans. 

The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been celebrating this week-long event since 1996. This year, the NWRS is hosting numerous events at refuges and partnering locations across the country now till October 15th. Every state is home to at least one wildlife refuge; click here to find the nearest one to you.

National wildlife refuges are open to the public, and offer a variety of activities for all ages—hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, photography opportunities, environmental education, and nature interpretation.

Here are some ideas on how you can enjoy the rest of National Wildlife Refuge Week:

Wednesday, October 12th
Near Valentine, Nebraska? Visit the Fort Niobrara NWR for the annual bison auction.

Thursday, October 13th
On the island of Kauai, Hawaii? Jump into a kayak and paddle the Hanalei River with a refuge biologist as your guide.

Friday, October 14th
In Trempealeau, Wisconsin? Get a taste of the local wine and cheese, while sporting binoculars or peaking through a scope at the Wings and Wine birding event at the Trempealeau NWR.

Saturday, October 15th
Around Denver, Colorado? Enjoy the day at Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR Visitor Center with a scavenger hunt, arts and crafts and wildlife viewing tours.

You can browse through more event listings to find the week's activities celebrating over 100 years of conserving wildlife and public lands within America’s National Wildlife Refuge System.

Image: A brown pelican sits atop a wildlife refuge sign at Pelican Island, the first NWR designated in 1903. 
Source: USFWS