Wild Places

Welcome to the wild places I would like to share with you. Many of the Wild Places that I will share with you are National Wildlife Refuges. I would be remiss if I did not include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to connect you to those Wild Places.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world's premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants. Since President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida's Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903, the System has grown to more than 150 million acres, 553 national wildlife refuges and other units of the Refuge System, plus 38 wetland management districts.

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

Will take you back to your roots; your prairie roots that is. This refuge is a reconstruction of tallgrass prairie and oak savannas. While the refuge does protect, preserve and restore prairie remnants and savannas, they also reconstruct prairie and savanna from corn and soybean fields. Talk about starting from “scratch”! This refuge offers wonderful walks in the shade of 300 year old oaks and pathways through 8 foot tall

grasses and wildflowers. You'll view bobolinks, dickcissels, meadowlarks and indigo buntings along with bison, elk and deer. You'll hear birdsong and frog calls and in the evenings you'll be enchanted with light bugs showing you the path. Visit the Prairie Learning Visitor Center to learn about what this refuge is all about. You'll learn about the native Americans who once inhabited these lands and the brave pioneer farmers who earned a living on some of the richest soils in the nation. Visit the best little bookstore in the Midwest, the Prairie Point Bookstore, to find that book you just can't find anywhere else. When you visit this refuge you'll understand that once, there was “wild” here and you'll experience the return of those heartbeats that tell you that “wild” is returning.

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

Offers a wonderful experience for any nature lover on a year round basis. Located on the southwest shoreline of Lake Erie, this refuge is loaded with wildlife no matter the time of year. The month of May finds the refuge literally flooded with the flashing colors of migrating warblers, hummingbirds and local bird species preparing for the breeding season. Thousands of birds “stack” up on the refuge in preparation for a northward crossing over Lake Erie to Point Pelee, Canada. By the end of August and early September, the newest fledglings of black crowned night herons, snowy and great egrets, and great blue herons make their way across a treacherous stretch of Lake Erie from West Sister Island National Wildlife Refuge to the shores of Ottawa where they find shallow waters and food (fish and amphibian) supplies in abundance. Here they rest and “stoke” up on energy before they migrate southward. Here too, you will find blue and green-winged teal initiate the great waterfowl migrations in the fall that will bring the refuge to life with ducks. Winter finds its way to Ottawa with eagles building nests and laying eggs that will hatch in the summer. You will be able to view them easily from almost any trail in the refuge. Summer returns and you'll find the deep shade of hardwood trees a welcoming retreat. Be sure to visit and experience the richness this refuge has to offer. You will be in for a treat any time of year.

Havasu National Wildlife Refuge 

I began my career here as a Wildlife Biologist spending eighty percent of my time on a boat of some kind on the Colorado River or in the warm, shallow waters of Topock Marsh.

San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge

I made great friends and partners while working as a Wildlife Refuge Manager at San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Restoration of tidal waters to lands that had been drained over 100 years ago was a pleasure. With the breach of old levees, thousands of waterbirds and waterfowl found their home again. While there I also managed Marin Islands National Wildlife Refuge with the largest heron rookery in San Francisco Bay, Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge where we worked to save the Lange’s Metalmark butterfly, and where the biologists are still continuing that work, and the proposed Alameda National Wildlife Refuge where US Fish and Wildlife biologists work side by side with the Friends of the Alameda Wildlife Refuge (FAWR) work tirelessly to protect the endangered Least Tern.

Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex

embodies the beauty and drama of the Mojave Desert. This Complex boasts four national wildlife refuges that total 1.6 million acres. The largest in the Complex is Desert National Wildlife Refuge which was established in 1936 as a game range to protect the desert bighorn sheep. An hour and a half west of Las Vegas, Nevada is the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Located in Nye County at the north end of Death Valley in Amargosa Valley, this refuge hosts various endangered desert pupfish and endangered plant species. But most remarkable is when you come to Ash Meadows in the heat of summer, you will find an oasis. This is what Las Vegas must have looked like before white settlers. Show up early to see bighorn sheep grazing in the meadows near the springs. Watch the bright blue pupfish frisk in the blue waters of hot springs.  Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge is located an hour and a half north of Las Vegas just south of the town of Alamo on Highway 92. This refuge was established for waterfowl and is the winter home of bald eagles, peregrines, swans and a multitude of waterfowl. Last but not least is Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge established to protect the endangered Moapa Dace. Check out the springs and streams that were restored and watch the fish swim in the viewing chamber of the stream bed.

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