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National Wildlife Refuges around the country are planning special events in mid-April 2009 to mark the 39th annual celebration of Earth Day.
The activities, timed to coincide with the March equinox, are meant to build awareness of the fragility of the earth’s environment and what ordinary people can do to help conserve and protect our natural resources.
The United States' more than 550 national wildlife refuges protect our natural habitat and the many creatures that depend on it for survival. Many refuges conduct year-round environmental education programs.
Here is a sampling of Earth Day events on National Wildlife Refuges. A national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities. For more information on events in your area, visit www.fws.gov/refuges and click on visitors.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Cambridge, Md.
Saturday, April 11, Earth Day Litter Pickup, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Join in the refuge’s annual litter pick-up of the roads around the refuge, and enjoy drinks and snacks, compliments of the nonprofit Friends of Blackwater. Individuals, families and groups are welcome. Meet at the Blackwater Visitor Center.
Contact: Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at (410) 228-2677.
More information about the refuge: www.fws.gov/blackwater.
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Oceanville, N.J.
Saturday, April 18, Earth Day Cleanup and Hike, 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Join refuge staff and the Township of Galloway for a cleanup along the refuge’s Wildlife Drive. Then go for a short nature walk led by naturalists. Activities are free, but you must pre-register: (609) 748-1535. A light lunch will be served. Rain date: Sunday, April 19.
Location: 800 Great Creek Road, Oceanville, N.J.
Contact: Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge at (609) 748-1535.
More information about the refuge: www.fws.gov/northeast/forsythe.
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Folkston, Ga. -- East Entrance
Saturday, April 18, Earth Day Litter Pickup and Bicycle Tour, 8 a.m. to noon
Join in a cleanup of the refuge and adjacent Highway 121. Then take off on a bicycle tour of Swamp Island Drive. Enjoy staffed exhibits and demonstrations along the way about wildlife, plants, wildland fire, fishing, nature photography, swamp culture, hiking, bicycling, recycling and more. Discover some of the amazing plants and animals found in the refuge. Create nature crafts, see live animals and get a free bicycle safety check. Find out what local organizations do in your community. Learn about what you can do to help protect the earth.
Contact: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at (912) 496-7836.
More information about the refuge: www.fws.gov/okefenokee.
Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Seymour, Ind.
Saturday, April 25, Earth Day Volunteer Day, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Join in a cleanup of the refuge. Then move on to other hands-on projects for all ages. Among these: improving hiking trails and removing invasive garlic mustard.
More information about the refuge: www.fws.gov/midwest/muscatatuck.
Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Dayton, TexasSaturday, April 25, Earth Day Boating Tours, Butterfly Viewing and Fishing Lessons, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Enjoy an afternoon of free outdoor activities, hosted by the refuge and the nonprofit Friends of Trinity River Refuge, at the Champion Lake Public Use Area. Activities will include canoeing, kayaking and boating tours; bird and butterfly viewing; walking the levee trail; and dip netting and fishing lessons in the lake for the kids. You may want to bring a lawn chair, as seating is limited.
Location: Champion Lake is located at the end of CR 417, two miles east of FM 1409 in southern Liberty County. This is approximately 10 miles south of Dayton, Texas, from Hwy 90 or about six miles north of Interstate 10 at the Cove exit (FM 565).
Contact: Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge at (936) 336-9786.
More information about the refuge: www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/texas/trinityriver.