One of the best known and most recognizable functions of wetlands is to provide a habitat for birds and other species. While visiting a wetland, you are likely to see a range of waterfowl activity. The value wetlands provide to a bird species greatly depends on water availability, depth, and quality; the availability of food and shelter; and the presence of predators. The presence of surface water and the duration and timing of flooding attracts different bird species.
The state of Louisiana lies in the Mississippi Flyway, a migratory bird route that generally follows the Mississippi River. This migration corridor is the greatest and most heavily-used in North America. Providing habitat to more than 5 million migratory waterfowl, Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are of great importance to these birds and the people who enjoy observing and hunting them. It is vital to waterfowl that we protect and restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands to continue providing a healthy habitat for birds that are migrating. If we continue to lose these precious wetlands, Louisiana will lose its iconic role as “Sportsman’s Paradise” and waterfowl populations will suffer.
While there are some people who cannot spend enough time outdoors, enjoying all of nature’s gifts, there are others who need a little more motivation to get outside and seek the beauty of our outdoors. What better time for either party to embrace the outdoor spirit of America than in the month of June, Great Outdoors Month. The month kicks off with a Presidential Proclamation, which advocates for all Americans to visit the great outdoors and to protect our nation’s legacy by conserving our lands for future generations. The Proclamation discusses the numerous possibilities for Americans to explore, play, and grow together through outdoor activities. Any activities from hiking to canoeing to wildlife watching, hunting, or fishing can involve kids by being healthy, active, and energized.
More and more Americans are seeking healthy and fun outlets as ways to stay active. The outdoor recreation community is situated in an exemplary position to help people lead a healthier lifestyle by welcoming them and providing guidance on how to take advantage of the great outdoors. Wetlands provide recreational opportunities such as fishing, canoeing, hiking, bird watching, and waterfowl hunting, just to name a few. One of the largest and most avid groups of people using wetlands is waterfowl hunters. There are an estimated 3 million migratory bird hunters in the United States. This year, new studies by the recreation community will record data on the key role outdoor recreation plays in local, state, and national economies. Outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse in our country generating nearly $887 billion in consumer spending each year and creating 7.6 million jobs. Great Outdoors Month is designed to highlight the benefits of getting involved with our great outdoors and enjoying natural resources, such as forests, parks, refuges, and other public land and waters.
This week’s Wetland Wednesday highlights National Wildlife Refuges in honor of
National Wildlife Refuge Week
So, what is a national wildlife refuge? A national wildlife refuge is a designated area of land which is protected and managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. These public land and water areas are dedicated to conserving wildlife and plants, while providing outreach and educational opportunities to inform the public on habitats and species relevant to the local area. These refuges manage a broad range of landscapes/habitat types such as wetlands, prairies, coastal and marine areas, and temperate, tundra, and boreal forests; as a result, each different habitat type attracts its own web of inhabitants. Many of the national refuges are responsible for rising numbers of endangered species, such as whooping cranes in Louisiana, which are federally protected and closely monitored. National Wildlife Refuges manage six wildlife-dependent recreational uses in accordance with National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, including hunting, fishing, birding, photography, environmental education, and interpretation. Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week by taking part in recreational activities and efforts to maintain safe, sustainable areas for local wildlife.
Click here to find a National Wildlife Refuge near you!