Tag Archives: tuesday trek

Tuesday Trek: Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

I’m Tom Barnes — you might know me from my TGIF with Tom column. And now, I’m bringing you Tuesday Trek! Each Tuesday, I’ll give you some insight about a refuge destination you might enjoy. Planning a winter vacation? Spring break? I might know the perfect spot for your upcoming travels! 

I grew up near the Connecticut River Watershed, where many of the ponds and streams near my house were polluted, even after the manufacturing plants upriver had been shuttered for years. Fortunately for this fundamental part of the Northeast’s ecosystem, the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge was founded in 1997 to preserve and restore parcels of land along the Connecticut River watershed. Straddling four states, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire, the refuge is made up of a diverse mix of habitats, from Nulhegan Basin in Vermont to a four-acre island in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

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Encompassing over 31,000 acres, the refuge manages the complex by working with partners to conserve plants, wildlife and their habitats in the 7.2 million-acre watershed. It has not one, but three education centers, including the Discovery Center in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, that teaches visitors about the important work and research accomplished here. Named for the late Congressman, Silvio O. Conte, this refuge lives up to his dream: “a Connecticut River, cleaned, fishable, swimmable, and with salmon restored to abundant numbers. And a dream that someday my children and grandchildren will continue to enjoy the outdoors as I have, and not be saddled with a planet polluted beyond repair.”

Tuesday Trek: Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge

I’m Tom Barnes — you might know me from my TGIF with Tom column. And now, I’m bringing you Tuesday Trek! Each Tuesday, I’ll give you some insight about a refuge destination you might enjoy. Planning a winter vacation? Spring break? I might know the perfect spot for your upcoming travels! 

Halfway between Buffalo and the City of Quality, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is on the way to Niagara Falls, and the perfect place to stop and stretch your legs. Founded to manage the hardwood swamp and wetlands of the area, staff use a complex system series of impoundments to create ideal breeding and nesting conditions for wildlife. As Iroquois is on the Atlantic Flyway, migratory birds and waterfowl take shelter here along their continental migration.

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For two legged mammals like us, there are plenty of opportunities for observing and photographing wildlife, or hunting and fishing. The refuge also hosts hundreds of school-aged children every year through a partnership with Canisius College, dubbed “Canisius Ambassadors for Conservation,” in order to teach these future conservationists the importance of environmental awareness.

Tuesday Trek: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

I’m Tom Barnes — you might know me from my TGIF with Tom column. And now, I’m bringing you Tuesday Trek! Each Tuesday, I’ll give you some insight about a refuge destination you might enjoy. Planning a winter vacation? Spring break? I might know the perfect spot for your upcoming travels!

When I visited Philadelphia, I was mostly concerned with finding a Philly cheesesteak to authenticate the experience. But on the drive into town, I remember catching sight of an expansive wilderness juxtaposing the city skyline cutting above it. John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum is an urban national wildlife refuge, an oasis of natural lands and unique wildlife habitat right in Philadelphia. For a breath of fresh air in the city, check out the largest freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania on the refuge.

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As a key stopover on the Atlantic Flyway, many species of migratory bird will rest and feed here, making it ideal for the urban birder. Around 300 discrete species have been observed here over the years. The refuge offers a number of birding programs year-round. And after all, you can always grab that Philly cheesesteak just a few minutes away.