National Wildlife Week

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Go outside and celebrate for National Wildlife Week April 21-29.

You can get a group of young people or families together and make a difference in your community, says the National Wildlife Federation.

Invite some friends to join in the National Wildlife Watch at nwf.org.

And to enjoy the beauty and wonder of spring all across America, tune in to the series launch of “Spring Watch USA” at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time April 21st on Animal Planet.

Visit the National Wildlife website listed above to download service projects and Watch information.

Take action then go back and tell them what you’ve done.

In other animal news, Dallas, TX recently okayed dogs on restaurant patios.

Following an 8-5 vote by the Dallas City Council, city food establishments may now apply for a local variance to current state laws that prohibit animals on restaurant premises.

“This is a terrific way to improve the quality of life and respond to greater diversity in our city,” said Council Member Angela Hunt at the time the decision was made.

“Animals are their children,” said Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Elba Garcia.

The council’s decision does not apply to cats or other house pets, Karen Rayzer, director of Dallas’ Environmental and Health Services Department told a reporter.

“According to Dallas’ ordinance, restaurants allowed to welcome dogs onto their patios must provide a separate entrance for outdoor patio, post signs that they are a ‘dog-friendly’ restaurant, install curtains separating the inside of a restaurant from its patio, prohibit dogs from going inside the restaurant and sitting or standing on outdoor tables or chairs, and from touching restaurant serving staff,” said writer Dave Levinthal. “Garcia, Hunt, and council members Gary Griffith, Pauline Medrano, Linda Koop, Steve Salazar, Ron Natinsky, and Ed Oakley voted to approve the ordinance.”

Mayor Pro Team Don Hill and Council Member James Fantroy were absent when the vote was taken.

In unrelated animal news, a fourth-grader gave her tooth fairy money to help establish a refuge for creatures.

“Abigail Blake loves animals and wants them to have a good home,” said writer Max Baker. “She donated $3 she received from the tooth fairy and a dollar in quarters she got from her grandmother to a special fund established to help buy land for Eagle Mountain Lake Park.”

Abigail, a fourth-grader at Daggett Montessori School in Fort Worth, TX, wrote to the Tarrant Regional Water District that she loved animals and donated money to save their habitat.

According to records, the water district has raised $14,499.75 from the public toward the estimated $9.6 million it needs to buy 400 acres from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.…

Visiting National Wildlife Refuges in Wyoming

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Visiting National Wildlife Refuges in Wyoming can give you a feeling of pride at being an American. The National Refuge program operates for the purpose of maintaining lands, not recreation, though recreation takes place there, and not for human beings though there are plenty who come and visit at Wyoming National Wildlife Refuges every year. The point of the National Wildlife Refuge is to insure that large parcels of land valuable as habitats for wildlife are maintained. It may be at the same time one of the most selfless and selfish acts coming out of Congress, for in some ways by saving wildlife we save a little bit of who we are as well.

 

National Elk Refuge, Jackson, Wyoming. Set aside as a large game refuge in 1912, the National Elk Refuge has successfully maintained a large herd of one of nature’s most imposing creatures, the elk. The refuge is managed is such a way as to provide a livable habitat for half of a herd of some 14,000 elk in an area just outside of the town of Jackson Wyoming and near Yellowstone and Grand Teton’s National Parks. The unique nature of this very special National Wildlife Refuge and the majesty of its main residents result each year in a visitors and seasonal hunters list that reaches 1 million people.

For visitors coming to visit the National Elk Refuge during the winter months is an experience not to be forgotten. According to the National Elk Refuge website at http://www.fws.gov/nationalelkrefuge the National Elk Refuge is special in several ways . First it is the largest single concentration of wintering elk anywhere in the world. When you visit this refuge you are seeing something very special indeed, 5,000 or more Elk in one area at one time. Second this is not just a refuge for Elk though that is the predominant herd. The refuge is also wintering area for a herd of almost 1,000 bison. Though these numbers don’t equal the size of herds that roamed this part of the country before settlement, a herd of 1,000 bison is very impressive to most human beings today. Third within the refuge there are many other forms of wildlife that are a treat to the eye and the spirit including big horn sheep, mule dear, wolves, coyotes and host of smaller animals.

Finally when you visit the National Elk Refuge you can’t help but leaving with a desire to take better care of all of our natural resources in the way that this refuge is being managed .

Horton Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The State of Wyoming is so filled with beautiful landscape and extensive parklands that some of the smaller refuge areas can get by passed easily. Such is the case of Horton Lake National Wildlife Refuge. According to its website at http://www.fws.gov/refuges Horton Lake National Wildlife Refuge was established so that man could assist with the manipulation of water supply and grazing area to benefit migrating birds.

The location of this wildlife refuge is rather extraordinary in that it is found some 7,000 ft. above sea level. The refuge land area surrounds five natural lakes that give the area special value as a refuge For visitors the draw is always the wildlife. With large concentrations of water and high altitude the refuge has more than its share of raptors and waterfowl passing through on regular basis. There are also several prairie dog towns that allow visitors a chance to see the critters up close and personal and to photograph what they see

Like many National Wildlife Refuges, Horton Lake is open …

Wildlife of the Pothole Ponds

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This is my morning routine: sit at the front window, check my emails on the laptop, watch the chickadees and juncos and jays and robins flitting from the butterfly bush to the birdfeeders. And watch the numerous birds of my neighborhood cavort in the ponds in the middle of my street. Pothole ponds.

Potholes. Those gaping holes that bottom out your car, swallow unsuspecting bicyclists and delight young children. I love the potholes in our street. It’s hardly a street really – an expanse of gravel only two houses long, in a quiet neighborhood a block from the Willamette River in Oregon. A city park is across the street, fir trees rising to the sky. Every few years a windstorm brings down two or three of these giants, making the house shake with the impact of their falling.

The potholes are lakes right now – almost joined into one in several places. When the weather warms, they will empty, to be replaced with dust that will swirl up in clouds in late summer heat and wind. But for now, they are playgrounds to the smaller birds, and soon will be a place for the ducks to come float. I garden next to these street lakes, careful to move out of the way if an occasional car tries to zip through to quickly, spraying water in all directions.

I’ve lived here for eleven years now. I remember someone walking by on a summers day and saying to me, “Wouldn’t it be nice if they paved this street?” to which I uttered a shocked and vehement “NO!” – bringing a look of offended surprise to this person who would like our neighborhood to be more neat and orderly. It’s a messy neighborhood in a way, but not in the sense of garbage and discarded cars. Many front yards are gardens, or have a greenhouse plopped right in front. Around the corner is a house with numerous plant starts in pots out front and a sign that reads “Food Not Lawns”. People in this neighborhood know each other by name, share food and seeds and gardening ideas. I have an old apple tree out front, some variety that no one can identify. It makes apples that look beautiful – huge, red and shiny. But bite into one and….arghhh! The inside of these apples is pink and mushy and mealy. I’ve seen people sneak up to take an apple, only to bite it and discard it with a sour look on their face and in their mouth. By fall the front yard is covered with discarded apples with one bite taken out of them. Another year, a young couple came and asked if they could take the apples for their apple press to make cider. I said sure…I certainly wasn’t using them! I’ve gone to other houses in the neighborhood as well, offering to exchange homemade jam for being able to pick their plums.

Around the corner my landlord lives on another gravel street, this one longer, with potholes as well. At one point he moved a house onto one of the double lots. In doing the work to prepare for its installation, he also graded the street up and down in front, eradicating the potholes. He came out the next day to find the kids from one of the houses digging holes in the street that he had just graded. “But we LIKED the potholes!” was their explanation.

What’s not to like? You certainly have to go slow through them if driving, making the street much safer for cats and children. Occasionally you …

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge a Must-See

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The city of Savannah, GA is known for it’s haunted city tours, extravagant nightlife, and ubiquitous seafood restaurants, but no visit to this Coastal Georgia city would be complete without a quick drive through the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.

Located just outside the city on the border with South Carolina, the Savannah NWR is a 29,000 acre wildlife preserve spotlighting the diverse flora and fauna of the Coastal Empire.

Entering the Refuge from the East, visitors can embark on a 4 mile drive through the park on a winding gravel road that showcases the aquatic ecosystem of the region. All manner of aquatic birds are on display, from ducks and cormorants to seagulls and pelicans. As visitors drive down the paths, turtles can be seen popping up and down in the marsh. There are numerous opportunities to get out and walk along miles of trails that skirt the canals and impoundments that divide the park, and get as close to nature as you desire.

And of course, there are the alligators. Floating serenely though the ponds, basking on the shore, or even hunting the many birds on the water, alligators are the main attraction of the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. On a warm and sunny day, it is not uncommon to see up to 50 alligators of various sizes on the 4 mile drive. Visitors are asked not to feed or harass the alligators, but simply enjoy seeing the ancient and majestic reptiles in the unbound habitat that they’ve lived in for millenia.

Best of all, this one of a kind nature experience is completely free! The Savannah NWR is open 7 days a week, year-round from sunrise to sunset. The Visitor’s Center, on the west end of the park, is open from 9-4:30 Monday through Saturday, and it features knowledgeable staff, restrooms, and displays highlighting the many wildlife opportunities the Refuge has to offer.

So when you make plans to visit the Coastal Empire, and you definitely should come enjoy the unique and diverse history of this region, be sure to budget a few hours to explore the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and observe the glory of nature in it’s purest form. 

 
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