Tag Archives: National Wildlife Refuge System

The Cure for Cabin Fever at Fort River

Winter fun for everyone!

Winter is here, and so are cold temperatures and snow. During the winter months in the Northeast, many people find themselves feeling restless with “cabin fever”. Thankfully, the National Wildlife Refuge System provides fun winter activities at the Fort River division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Hadley, Massachusetts throughout the winter! Whether it be snowshoeing the trails of the refuge, tracking wildlife through tracks and signs in the snow, wildlife viewing and photography, learning about the subnivean zone, hunting, or visiting the Connecticut River exhibit and watershed demonstration table at the Springfield Science Museum, the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge provides winter fun for everyone!

Snowshoeing at the Fort River Division trail allows you to continue your outdoor adventures all year long, and get a first hand look at wildlife in the winter. Snowshoeing is a great way to access and explore areas that would otherwise not be accessible during the snow-covered winter months in New England.

Who goes there? Winter is a great time to find out! While exploring the trail of Fort River, keep an eye out for animal tracks and sign in the snow to discover the wildlife present and their behavior. Tracking may reveal an animal’s size, gate, diet, and habits, and is a source of wonder and imagination. A 2 page animal track identification guide will be available for viewing in the main kiosk at the start of the trail – use this visual to help you identify the wildlife tracks left in the snow.

Evidence of an owl hunting prey under the snow.

Raccoon tracks.

When planning a visit to the Fort River Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, don’t forget to pack your binoculars and camera! The Fort River trail offers picturesque views of birds and other wildlife, providing us with the opportunity to see the natural world differently through a camera lens. Allow yourself to be still, silent, and humbled at the multiple overlooks along the trail, where you’ll have the perfect vantage point for wildlife viewing and photography. A bird identification guide is in the main kiosk at the start of the trail – use this visual as a guide for identifying the birds you see from the trail.

Male and female northern cardinals.

For the winter months, the story book kiosks along the Fort River trail will feature “Over and Under the Snow” by Kate Messner, a children’s book that explores the secret kingdom under the snow where animals live throughout the winter – the subnivean zone. Be sure to check the Friends of Fort River Facebook page to keep updated on books featured in the story book trail kiosks!

An illustration of animals living in the subnivean zone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunting is a fun activity that offers a sense of freedom and self-reliance that cannot be matched.” The Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge offers regulated hunting opportunities at Fort River and other divisions of the refuge, including the Nulhegan Division in northern Vermont and the Pondicherry Division in New Hampshire. It is essential that all hunters understand and comply with both refuge-specific and state hunting seasons and regulations. Wondering how regulated hunting contributes to conservation and the mission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service? Check out A Non-hunter’s Guide to Hunting to learn more!

A mother and calf moose at the Nulhegan Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge.

On days where you’d prefer an indoor expedition, check out the Connecticut River Exhibit at the Springfield Science Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts! The exhibit features 5 interactive educational kiosks, including a salmon game, a grip strength comparison between your hand and the talon of an American Eagle, and fun facts about the Connecticut River Watershed. Don’t miss the Conte Refuge’s watershed demonstration table, where you can learn what defines a watershed, how watersheds are formed, what ecological services watersheds provide, and how you can do your part in ensuring watersheds stay healthy and clean for wildlife and people alike.

Part of the Connecticut River Exhibit at the Springfield Science Museum.

 

Welcome to your National Wildlife Refuge System

Today you’re hearing from Scott Kahan, Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System in the Northeast, as he reflects on the value of the refuge system for wildlife and people alike.

Scott Kahan, Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System

114 years ago, President Roosevelt established the National Wildlife Refuge System, and this week we celebrate his vision as we celebrate National Wildlife Refuge System week.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said “Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us.  Let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving as their forests, waters, lands, and minerals, and in this great work the national government must bear a most important part.”

This is an especially important national wildlife refuge week as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act. This landmark legislation gave us many things, but I think the most important was a mission for the National Wildlife Refuge System:

“…to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans. ”

Our mission is important.  The National Wildlife Refuge System is the largest system of lands and waters in the world managed for wildlife. In the Northeast Region we have 78 refuges- each unique. From the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, to Moosehorn and Aroostook National Wildlife Refuges  in Maine, to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument 200 miles offshore which protects over 3,500,000 acres of rare marine habitats- the National Wildlife Refuge System is unique and diverse. These are incredibly important places for wildlife, and it’s because of this that they are equally special places for people.

I love that our mission makes it clear that we manage these places on behalf of the American people, and I am proud of our employees – who manage these lands as public servants as a public trust – bringing their passion, skill, and personal integrity to manage these special places and carrying out this important mission.

I hope you are able to find some time to get away this week and reflect on the wild places in this country, and how fortunate we are to have something as special as our National Wildlife Refuge System.