Feel the urge to do something wild this summer? And you need to do it on a shoestring budget? Plan a motorhome trip to one of these out-of-the-ordinary events on National Wildlife Refuges.
The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife and plants. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.
Here is a sampling of events:
Saturday, June 20 – Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Baring, Maine
Grab the kids and head to the 12th Annual Children’s Fishing Derby at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. The event will take place at the Headquarters Pond at Cobscook Bay State Park, on the refuge.
Officially, the program runs from 11 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., but you can register as early as 10 a.m. to stake out a good fishing spot. The refuge and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will stock the pond with brook trout before the event. Children up to age 16 are eligible for prizes and may catch up to the state limit of five trout. Free hotdogs, chips, drinks and cookies will be available to everyone present.
More more information: www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=53530
Take a red wolf howling safari
Summer – Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, Manteo, North Carolina
Track a wolf at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Cars caravan to the howling site on Wednesday nights throughout the summer, weather-permitting. There’s a nominal charge of $5 to participate in the two-hour guided program.
To reserve a place, call (252) 796-5600. Bring a flashlight and insect repellant. No pets allowed.
More information: www.redwolves.com; refuge: www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=41630
See the Eagles
June and July – Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Bloomington, Minnesota
Take a volunteer-led eagle-watching tour at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month through July. Guided tours leave at 6 p.m. by four-wheel-drive van from the visitor center at 3815 American Blvd. East. Bring binoculars and wear walking shoes.
To reserve a place, call (952) 858-0740 at least 24 hours in advance. A $5-per-person donation is requested.
More information: www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=32590
Watch a unique flying lesson
July and August – Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Necedah, Wisconsin
Catch a daybreak flight training for the whooping crane chicks raised on Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, in preparation for their trip south this fall.
Each morning at sunrise during July and August, weather-permitting, ultralight airplanes lead the newest crop of endangered whooping cranes in swoop and soar lessons. You can watch the giant-winged birds and the overhead action free from the Point B observation tower on the refuge. Flight lessons are canceled if it’s windy or raining.
More information: www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=32530
Catch a historic how-to
Sunday, August 9 – Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Ridgefield, Washington
Learn how Native Americans made hunting tools from stone and bone. Enjoy demonstrations of historic Chinookan tool making, plant harvesting and weaving from natural materials. Noon to 3:30 p.m. at the Cathlapotle Plankhouse. The plankhouse is open regularly on weekends from noon to 4 p.m. through October.
More information: www.plankhouse.org