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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites America to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week (October 12-18, 2014) with a visit to a national wildlife refuge. While you are enjoying the fishing or hiking or just the tranquility, learn how wildlife refuges conserve your wildlife heritage and enrich your life.

National wildlife refuges help conserve wildlife, protect against erosion and flooding, and purify our air and water. They also support regional economies, teach children about nature, and offer protected places to be outdoors. Find a refuge near you:

ok wildlife refugesOklahoma Wildlife Refuges:
Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge
Little River National Wildlife Refuge
Optima National Wildlife Refuge
Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge
Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge
Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge
Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge
Washita National Wildlife Refuge
Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge

“National wildlife refuges include some of America’s most treasured places, from the coastal islands of Maine to the deserts of the Southwest to Alaskan mountain ranges,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “National Wildlife Refuge Week is a perfect time to discover everything that refuges have to offer.”

“Americans cherish their natural heritage,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Since President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island, Florida, in 1903, we’ve learned that this precious legacy can’t be taken for granted. I hope that citizens across the country will use this occasion to visit to a wildlife refuge, enjoy the festivities and learn more about conservation.”

U.S. Senator Chris Coons led a resolution to commemorate the week of October 12th as National Wildlife Refuge Week to raise awareness about the importance of the Refuge System to wildlife conservation and the recreational opportunities available in our wildlife refuges.

“Wildlife refuges bring people together from all walks of life for hunting, birding, fishing, and simply enjoying the great outdoors,” Senator Coons said.

Since 1995, refuges across the country have celebrated National Wildlife Refuge Week in early October with festivals, educational programs, guided tours and other events. Many state and local governments proclaim the week every year, and for the past four years Congress has officially recognized it.

Nationwide, refuges support more than 35,000 jobs and pump $2.4 billion into local communities, according to a Service report issued last year. More than 47 million people visited a refuge last year. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife,” offered one visitor.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, which turned 111 years old this year, is the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing more than 150 million acres in 562 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

Refuges also offer world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation along 2,500 miles of land and water trails to photography and environmental education.