National Wildlife Refuges across the United States are inviting nature enthusiasts to get outdoors during National Wildlife Refuge Week: October 14-20, 2012.
During the week long celebration, national wildlife refuges across the USA will host bird counts, special exhibits, and other events.
National wildlife refuges provide public access for wildlife observation, photography, hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, and other activities along 2,500 miles of land and water trails.
“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.”
According to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey, 45 million refuge visitors participated in wildlife viewing, bird watching, photography, hiking, auto tours, and other activities during 2011.
About 90 percent of the survey’s 10,000 adult participants reported satisfaction with National Wildlife Refuge recreation, information and education, public service and conservation.
Since Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has grown to include 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.