After significant damage caused by Hurricane Irma, staff and volunteers have been hard at work on clean-up and repairs at Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida to get the preserve ready for the busy winter season. Facilities are beginning to reopen and soon visitors can enjoy paddling, hiking, hunting, fishing, biking and birdwatching in this amazing wetland. Photo by National Park Service.
Surrounded by farmland and development, Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana is critical habitat for the diverse wildlife that call the area home. The grasslands, forests and wetlands of the refuge support animals from otters and deer to a wide variety of birds. Fall is a great time to see waterfowl or catch a sunrise over one of the refuge’s lakes. Photo by D. Stanley, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
There’s a lot to do at Congaree National Park in South Carolina. Whether you prefer paddling Cedar Creek, roughing it on a backcountry camping trip, fishing in oxbow lake, having a picnic, joining a ranger-led “Owl Prowl” or just taking a short stroll on the boardwalk, the park is ready to welcome you. Photo by National Park Service.
Twenty miles outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and not far from the historic battlefields of Lexington and Concord, Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge features 3,800 acres of wetlands and forests – perfect habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Over 200 species of birds have been sighted here, and white-tailed deer, beaver, fisher, otter, muskrats, red fox, weasels and various small mammals all find a home in the refuge. Photo by Deb Della Piana (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Waterfall-draped mountains encircle Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. The winding Hanalei River feeds wetlands that are home to five endangered water birds: the koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck), the ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot), the ‘alae‘ula (Hawaiian moorhen), the ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt), and the nēnē (Hawaiian goose). Photo by J. Waipa, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
It’s strange to imagine, but the roots of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida go all the way to the moon. In 1962, NASA acquired 140,000 acres of land, water and marshes adjacent to Cape Canaveral to establish the John F. Kennedy Space Center. Despite the massive undertaking of sending a man to the moon, not all the land was needed, so the wildlife refuge was established on the unused portions. Today, you can see manatees, tropical birds, turtles, otters, bobcats and yes, the occasional rocket launch. Photo by Jose Torres (www.sharetheexperience.org).
There’s nothing quite like a wetlands sunrise. The morning colors sparkle across miles of still water while tall grasses wave in the breeze. Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida protects 729,000 acres of unique freshwater swamp, offering refuge to a wide variety of plants and animals. From hardwood hammocks hiding rare Florida panthers to tidal estuaries teeming with birds and fish, there is so much to see in this wonderful place. Photo by National Park Service.
J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on Sanibel Island in south Florida. Part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States, the refuge is famous for its spectacular migratory birds. One of the most recognizable is the roseate spoonbill, a large pink bird that uses its long, curiously shaped bills to catch prey as it wades in shallow water. Photo courtesy of Harold Wagle.
Within sight of New York City skyscrapers, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is an 18,000-acre wetland estuary surrounded by the Rockaway Peninsula to the south, Brooklyn to the west, and Queens to the east. An area almost equal to the size of Manhattan, the bay consists of numerous islands, a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands and two freshwater ponds. The refuge provides an accessible and unique environment for both wildlife and urban recreation. Photo by Micael Fano (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Happy birthday, Everglades National Park. Established in 1947, the park protects 1.5 million acres of world-famous south Florida wetlands. Although the captivation with the Everglades has mostly stemmed from its unique ecosystem, an alluring human story is deeply interwoven with its endless marshes, dense mangroves, towering palms, alligator holes and tropical fauna. Visiting this vast and wild park, it’s easy to recognize its importance. Photo courtesy of Jacob W. Frank.