Visit Your National Wildlife Refuges: October 14-20, 2012 Blog Post by Susan Morse, Writer/Editor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Visit a national wildlife refuge for National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 14-20. Celebrate America’s wildlife heritage and see what refuges are doing to conserve it.

Wildlife refuges do more than protect wildlife. They boost the economy while giving us world-class places to hunt and fish and hike and watch wildlife. They filter the air we breathe and the water we drink while improving our soil and pollinating our crops.

Visitors come away wowed. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land,” said a participant in a recent highly favorable visitor national survey. “Visiting a refuge is truly a spiritual experience.”

The nation’s premier conservation network, the National Wildlife Refuge System, covers 556 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one wildlife refuge. There’s a refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

We’ve included a sampling of National Wildlife Refuge Week events below. Find more Refuge Week events on the special events calendar.

Saturday, October 13

Audubon National Wildlife Refuge, ND, 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Halloween Adventure: The Wild Night Life of the Refuge. Enjoy an afternoon and evening of family fun and learning about animals that are active at night, including bats, owls and coyotes. Pre-registration is required: call (701) 442-5474 ext. 117

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, TX, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Join the refuge’s Refuge Week celebration at Doeskin Ranch. Butterfly tagging and butterfly walks are among planned activities.

Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge, IL, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Take a guided canoe tour along the Old Cache Channel. Meet at Cache Levee Access. Reservations are required: call (618) 634-2231. Reservations will be accepted beginning September 13.

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, TX, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
See live birds of prey. Enjoy a day of family events including guided hikes, fishing and hands-on nature program for youth.

Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, WI, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Celebrate with a morning 5k Run/Walk, followed by activities throughout the day.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Enjoy a variety of wildlife activities and booths, arts and crafts, and nature films for all ages. Preview the new nine-mile Wildlife Drive, a self-guided auto tour route.

Southeast Louisiana Refuges, LA, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Attend “Wild Things in Lacombe,” a large annual event at the Bayou Lacombe Centre.

Sunday, October 14

Scores of refuges will once again host The Big Sit!, an annual event in which teams count and report bird species seen or heard from a 17-foot-diameter circle. Participating refuges include:

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Tubby Cove Observation Platform, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, IN
Endicott Observation deck, sunrise to sunset

Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, MO
Dawn until dusk

Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Champion Lake Pier, sunrise to sunset

Saturday, October 20

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, HI, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Attend an open house at the refuge on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Take a guided bird hike in ancient rainforest habitat. View forest restoration planting sites. Tour the greenhouse where native koa, ohia, and rare lobeliads and mints are being propagated.

Image: At Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, two wading birds show off their mating plumage. National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 14-20, celebrates the sights and sounds of the National Wildlife Refuge System, a network of public lands set aside to protect wildlife. Photo by Bonita Caldwell/USFWS.