Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy 113th birthday to the National Wildlife Refuge System!

Today's an important day for the National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The system turns 113! 

On March 14. 1903 then legendary conservationist and President Teddy Roosevelt declared a three-acre island off the east coast of Florida a safe haven for egrets, pelicans and other birds that were at the time being hunted for their feathers (plumes) to be used in ladies' hats. Fast-forward a century later, the NWRS has grown to protect some 150,000,000 across 563 designated refuges and 38 protected wetlands. Some 46.5 million people visit national wildlife refuges and partake in numerous outdoor recreational activities from kayaking, hiking, photography, and hunting.

They're essential for the study and protection of nearly 280 endangered and at-risk species and many serve as a key checkpoint for migrating birds and butterflies. By the numbers. refuges are home to 220 types of mammals, 250 species of reptiles and amphibians, 700 varieties of birds and 1,000 kinds of fish. Like our national parks, national wildlife refuges are so important and beneficial to our lands. I volunteer at one each week, Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, located on the top portion of a 33,000-acre marsh. Why? Because after spending time exploring its never-ending, undisturbed beauty and seeing first-hand how big of a positive impact it makes on the species and surrounding environment, I felt it was a must to give back.

Take advantage of these stunning places. I'm pretty confident you'll do some of the best hiking and adventuring you'll ever do, could be done in a national wildlife refuge. There's a refuge in every state, find your nearest one and go explore: