On a recent trip in Minneapolis, I had some time before I had to head to the airport and was thrilled to find a National Wildlife Refuge close by. It was a pleasure to stretch my legs while checking out the local flora and fauna.
Refuges and nature centers are not only great places to visit, but they are fantastic local resources as well. Near the visitors center there were numerous gardens with educational signs displaying the benefits of rain gardens, highlighting different butterfly attracting plants, and identifying local wildlife.
There is also a plethora of useful information inside. The exhibits highlight local ecosystems and wildlife. I picked up brochures on a variety of topics including native plants, prescribed fires, and invasive species. Most importantly, however, are the knowledgeable staff. I strongly believe in the use of controlled burns to maintain natural areas, but find that most of our members do not know where to start. Knowing that they use burns in the refuge I asked if they ever work with private landowners. The answer was not only “yes”, but they knew about Audubon International and were already working with some of our members.
I also want to mention, for all our Twin City members, that Karen Shragg and the Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield is also a great friend of Audubon International and our members. I am NOT a fan of Wikipedia, but they seem to be the only site that has a list of nature centers in the US. You are likely better off using Google to find somewhere local.
According to the National Wildlife Refuge System website, there is at least one wildlife refuge in each of the 50 states and one within an hours drive of most major U.S. cities. You can find the refuges nearest you by visiting www.fws.gov/refuges/zipCodeLocator/index.cfm. It’s worth the trip!