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.
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.
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!
“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!
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.