Scores of national wildlife refuges will be holding open houses and other special events to celebrate the Refuge System’s 108th birthday on March 14, 2011.
On March 14, 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Florida’s Pelican Island to protect wild birds from bounty hunters. In the proclamation, President Roosevelt said: “Wild beasts and birds are by right not the property merely of the people who are alive today, but the property of unknown generations, whose belongings we have no right to squander.” He would go on to protect 52 more areas as wildlife sanctuaries before leaving office.
The President’s America’s Great Outdoors: A Promise to Future Generations, initiative is the result of a national conversation affirming America’s commitment to conserving and connecting with our outdoor heritage. Our national wildlife refuges provide opportunities for families to share time together and Americans to fish, hike, hunt and pass on proud outdoor traditions to our children.
Today, the Refuge System’s 553 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts support at least 700 species of birds, 220 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, more than 1,000 species of fish and countless invertebrates and plants.
Just a few examples of refuge celebrations to be held on or around the birthday date follow. To find out if your local refuge has an event scheduled, use the “Find Your Refuge” feature on the Refuge System homepage. Or go to the Visitors tab on the yellow bar at the top of the page, and click on Special Events in the pull-down menu. Click on “Display All Events.” All events are listed chronologically.
- Attend the Refuge System Birthday Bash!
Saturday, March 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, MD
Celebrate the birthday of the National Wildlife Refuge System. See animals close up and enjoy performances by Reptile World. Includes wildlife habitat tram tours and children’s activities and crafts. Learn more about Patuxent Refuge.
- Enjoy an Open House in Honor of the Refuge System Birthday
Saturday, March 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, OR
Celebrate the Refuge System’s birthday by taking part in free family events at the refuge. Take a free two-hour guided “behind the scenes” tour with refuge managers at 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. Advance registration is required. To reserve, call 541-757-7236. Take part in activities on prescribed fire, local wildlife and plants, law enforcement, wildlife photography and historic structures. Learn more about William L. Finley Refuge.
- Attend a Family Event in Honor of the Refuge System Anniversary
Saturday, March 12, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. — Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, LA
An anniversary celebration, called “Walk Where the Wildlife Walks,” emphasizes refuge trails. Take a guided trail walk, try mystery geocaching or test yourself with challenge trail activities. Canoe the refuge’s expanded canoe loop trail. Learn more about Black Bayou Lake Refuge.
- Attend a Birthday Event
Saturday, March 12, 9 a.m. to noon — Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, NC
Enjoy a free tram tour, and learn why it’s important to preserve these and other public lands for generations to come. Learn more about the event. Learn more about Alligator River Refuge.
- Attend the 19th Annual Pelican Island Wildlife Festival
Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Riverview Park, Sebastian, FL
Celebrate the 108th birthday of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System. Enjoy exhibits, wildlife shows, boat tours to Pelican Island, live music and kids’ activities. Learn more about the festival. Learn more about Pelican Island Refuge.
- Hear an Anniversary Talk
Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. —Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, MD
Meet at the visitor contact station to hear an interpretive talk. Learn more about Eastern Neck Refuge at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/easternneck
- Enjoy Sense of Wonder Day
Saturday, March 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT
In honor of the Refuge System’s birthday and the amazing work and life of Rachel Carson, there will be movies and lectures, crafts and activities, and outdoor fun for the whole family. Learn more about Bear River Refuge.
- Enjoy a Refuge Open House
Saturday, March 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. — St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge, FL
Enjoy exhibits, hikes, nature trails, music, historical narratives, photo ops and more. Learn more about St. Vincent Refuge.
Other upcoming events at the National Wildife Refuge System:
Clean a Refuge for Earth Day
Earth Day, April 22, has been set aside since 1970 to celebrate the earth’s richness, recognize its fragility and educate people about protecting the planet. Many refuges will host public events.
Celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week
Many refuges will host public events in June to mark this annual celebration of fishing and boating, sponsored by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.
Focus on a Bird Festival
With so many national wildlife refuges located near one of the nation’s four major flyways, it’s no wonder refuges are favorite bird festival sites. Many festivals occur in April and May to coincide with spring migration and International Migratory Bird Day.
Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week
Plan ahead. National Wildlife Refuge Week, observed the second week in October, celebrates the important conservation work of America’s 553 national wildlife refuges.
Refuge Events Calendar
There is a National Wildlife Refuge within an hour’s drive of most major U.S. cities. Here is a sampling of upcoming refuge events.
For more information ,visit http://www.fws.gov.