Oct. 12-18 Is National Wildlife Refuge Week

"America's wildlife refuges offer great places to teach our children the importance of making a lifelong commitment to our nation's natural resources," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall. "Exploring the outdoors and learning how all living things are connected to one another is what National Wildlife Refuge Week is all about."

The United States has 548 national wildlife refuges, which are dedicated to the conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats. They also offer a wide range of wildlife-dependent recreation -- from hunting and fishing to wildlife observation, wildlife photography, nature interpretation, and environmental education. The Refuge System includes 2,500 miles of land and water trails, and there is at least one national wildlife refuge in every state and one within an hour's drive of most major cities.

This year, the annual celebration highlights the 75th anniversary of the Federal Duck Stamp and the 50th anniversary of the Small Wetlands Program. These two programs have helped the Refuge System expand to its current size of 97 million acres.

Many special events are planned for National Wildlife Refuge Week. Here's a sample:

The Big Sit!
Celebrate the birds on a national wildlife refuge on Oct. 12 by participating in The Big Sit! National wildlife refuges from Wheeler, Ala., and Pelican Island, Fla., to DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri Valley, Iowa, and Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge in Salem, Ore., are hosting this annual international birding event.

Families and individuals find a great spot for bird watching and sit in a circle, counting all the bird species they see or hear. Bird Watcher's Digest tallies the totals and identifies prize winners in several categories.

For a list of The Big Sit! sites, visit http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/site/funbirds/bigsit/results08/circles_registered.php

Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge (Illinois), located near the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, gives visitors a chance to see the huge concentrations of waterfowl that arrive each October. The refuge's riverbanks are also great places to see muskrat, beaver, turtles, and frogs.

For a comprehensive list of events, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuges/SpecialEvents/FWS_SpecialEvents_Search.cfm.

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