Treat yourself with a visit to a national wildlife refuge during National Wildlife Refuge Week, from October 14-20. Celebrate America’s wildlife heritage, and see what refuges are doing to conserve it.

“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.”

Visitors to refuges like what they find there, according to a study this year by the U.S. Geological Survey. About 90 percent of the survey’s 10,000 adult participants reported satisfaction with refuge recreation, information and education, public service and conservation. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife,” offered one respondent. “Visiting a refuge is truly a spiritual experience.”

Among the most popular activities for 45 million refuge visitors last year were wildlife viewing, bird watching, photography, hiking and auto-tour-route driving.

Since Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, the National Wildlife Refuge System has become the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing 150 million acres in 556 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge, and almost 80% of National Wildlife Refuge land is right here in Alaska. Across the United States, there is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

National wildlife refuges also offer world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation along 2,500 miles of land and water trails to photography and environmental education.

Check your local refuge’s website for Refuge Week events. Among the events planned:

Anchorage – Wildlife Wednesdays

Wildlife Wednesdays, a popular fall and winter speaker series featuring Alaska’s wildest residents, kicks off October 10 at 7 pm at the Alaska Zoo.

Take an arm chair journey aboard the Tiglax, a scientific research vessel travelling throughout the Aleutians islands. Billy Pepper, the ship’s Captain, will share stories about transporting scientists to the state’s remote coastlines to study the state’s wild winged inhabitants.

Through April 2013, mark your calendars for the 2nd Wednesday each month to learn more about polar bears, Dall sheep, owls, wolves, bears, and more.

Visit http://www.alaskazoo.org/lectures-and-talks-0 for more information.

Anchorage – Blue Goose Geo Tour

Attention Anchorage Adventurers of all ages, get outside this fall to tour city parks on the Blue Goose GeoTour. A geotour is a series of geocaches* connected by a common theme. The Blue Goose Geotour is a series of 16 wildlife refuge themed caches hidden at Anchorage city parks. Each geocache features one of Alaska’s 16 National Wildlife Refuges and contains educational information related to special features of that Refuge, as well as “First to Find” prizes for up to 10 treasure hunters.

*A geocache (pronounced “geo-cash”) is a hidden treasure that one locates by using a GPS device or smart phone. Geocaching is a family friendly outdoor activity that blends technology, gaming, and environmental discovery. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, and then share your experiences online.

Prizes

Each cache contains a special “First to Find” prize as well as up to 10 additional prizes. Caches also contain a trivia question that is answered by following a virtual clue printed on passport cards in the cache. For each trivia answer submitted, you will be entered into a drawing for more prizes including: water bottles, reusable bags, binoculars, and gift certificates to sporting goods stores.

The first 50 people to visit all 16 caches and submit their completed trivia postcards will receive an Alaska National Wildlife Refuges path tag.

Take the GeoTour

  1. Start by getting your equipment together. You will need a smart phone and app or a GPS device.
  2. Link to the GPS Coordinates on Geocaching.com search Blue Goose or BGGT.
  3. With the help of a GPS enabled device or smart phone find up to 16 refuge geocaches.
  4. Within each cache is a passport card with a trivia question.
  5. Take a passport card and follow its virtual path to answer the question.
  6. To track which caches you visited and trivia questions you have answered, download passport book and postcard answer sheet.
  7. Submit your trivia answers via postcard to:

Blue Goose Geo Tour, Alaska NWRS MS 235, 1011 East Tudor, Anchorage, AK 99503 or via email to wild4ak@gmail.com Deadline for submitting entries is November 14, 2012. For questions or advice on how to get started call 907-786-3340

Homer, Alaska –“Refuges on the Air” 2012 Refuge Week Celebration

Ham radio operators from throughout south-central Alaska will be camped out in the Islands & Ocean Visitor Center parking lot from Friday to Sunday October 12th – 13th fielding amateur radio contacts from around the world as part of Refuges on the Air. This is the third year Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge has participated in the program. Visitors are welcome to come by, listen in on the radio chatter, and ask questions of the volunteer radio operators from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Successful contacts to KL7NWR at Islands & Ocean will hear a message about the refuge and have an opportunity to get collectable QSL cards and certificates featuring refuge photos and information. Through this nation-wide program, amateur radio operators use their communication capabilities to spread the word about the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Spot the Flock in Anchorage

The Blue Goose is the symbol of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and it can be seen at every entrance to refuge lands.  The goose was created from a drawing done by “Ding” Darling, a two time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist who also developed the Duck Stamp Program. Learn more about the goose through this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHyvqlYSxgo.

This year we have a flock of colorful lawn geese, led by the Blue Goose, who are migrating around Anchorage to raise awareness about the 16 National Wildlife Refuges found in Alaska.

How to Play:

Throughout October, if you can spot the colorful flock around town you can win prizes by posting your sightings on the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/alaskarefugefriends), or by emailing a photo or a description of your sighting to wild4ak@gmail.com.

To get clues about the flock’s whereabouts, check this website or “Like”

Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges on Facebook.

All those who spot the flock AND post a photo of the flock, OR describe one of the geese in the flock will be eligible for prizes. A single sighting and post will receive a sticker or water bottle, and the person who spots the flock the most will receive the grand prize, a pair of binoculars.

Runners up will receive gift certificates.

Logo courtesy U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

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