Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Hosts First Shot Mentored Turkey Hunt

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is hosting the first ever First Shot Mentored Turkey Hunt on April 21-22, 2018 with Maryland Department of Natural Resources and National Wild Turkey Federation. Over 65 aspiring new hunters applied for the 14 openings to be paired with an experienced mentor and learn what’s involved in a supportive environment from scouting, calling and harvesting their first bird. The 14 selected are a mix of women, handicap, youth and new adult hunters that don’t have a support network to help them learn this lifelong endeavor.

Orientation on Saturday April 21 will be at the Environmental Education Building where they will learn about scouting, calling, techniques, and even taste wild game. The next morning at 5am the mentees and mentors will venture on their first hunt at locations across the refuge and at several nearby private locations generously donated by Muddy Marsh Outfitters, Whistling Creek Outfitters, and Tudor Farms-Young Life.

Hunting and fishing contributes significantly to wildlife conservation especially at the state level, with about 59 percent of funding, or $3.3 billion, from hunting and fishing-related activities. But according to a survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, only 5 percent of Americans, 16 years old and older, hunt, half of what it was 50 years ago. With nearly a third of current hunters as baby boomers, this decline will dramatically worsen within a decade and threaten the ability to fund conservation.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 29,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife. To learn more, visit our website at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/blackwater or @BlackwaterNWR.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Hosts 18th Eagle Festival

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is hosting its 18th Annual Eagle Festival on Saturday, March 17th, 2018 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  The public is invited to participate in the many great activities planned for the day.  All programs and activities will take place at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center as well as in large heated tents adjacent to the building.  Unless otherwise noted, entrance to the Festival, the Wildlife Drive, and all activities are free thanks to the support of the Friends of Blackwater and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Eagle Festival celebrates birds of prey with educational programs that provide visitors with an up-close view of this unique class of birds.  Scheduled presentations will include: a raptor identification program with naturalist and raptor educator Liz Smith; a “Raptor’s Rule!” program with Mike Callahan of Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center; two chances to see a live bald eagle program with Maryland DNR ‘Scales and Tales’ naturalists, and a peregrine falcon program with falconer Andrew Bullen.

Blackwater’s experienced volunteers and staff will be leading several guided tours throughout the day.  “Early birds” to the Eagle Festival can meet at the refuge’s Environmental Education Building on Wildlife Drive for a guided birding tour with Terry Allen at 8:00 am.  During the event, visitors can choose to look for eagles on one of our eagle prowl van tours, or take a motor coach bus ride around the Wildlife Drive to view wildlife (including eagles) and learn about refuge habitats.  Free registration for all eagle prowl van tours and bus tours will begin at 9:30 am the day of the festival (there is no pre-registration).  Tour spaces fill up quickly, so visitors are encouraged to plan accordingly.  A map of eagle “hot spots” will also be available for folks who wish to explore the area on their own.

There will be no shortage of fun for children at the Eagle Festival.  The youth “Hoverball” archery range and National Wild Turkey Federation’s BB gun range will be open from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm.  Kids’ “make-and-take” activities will also run throughout the day while supplies last.  Activities include: build-your-own wren nesting box, soap carving, owl pellet exploration, button-making, a butterfly life cycle craft, and face painting.

Exhibitors include the Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center, Salisbury Zoo, and Raptor’s Eye, each with live birds of prey that you can see up close.  Maryland DNR ‘Scales and Tales’ naturalists will have live reptiles on display, and festival visitors will have an opportunity to meet some of the aquatic residents of the Chesapeake Bay in the Phillips Wharf “Fishmobile.”  Other exhibitors include Pickering Creek Audubon Center, the Friends of Blackwater and the USDA Nutria Project, who will conduct Nutria Detector Dog demonstrations at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm.

As always, the Friends of Blackwater’s “Eagle’s Nest” Bookstore will be open for business, stocking one of the best collections of nature-related books and gifts on Delmarva, as well as Blackwater-specific items.  Food and drinks will also be available for purchase throughout the day, benefitting Boy Scout Troop 532.  Don’t miss out on this free event for the whole family!  For more information and a schedule of programs, visit www.fws.gov/refuge/Blackwater, or call 410-228-2677.  No pets, please!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to providing access to this event for all participants.  Please direct all requests for sign language interpreting services, close captioning, or other accommodation needs to Ray Paterra (410-221-8155, ray_paterra@fws.gov, TTY 800-877-8339) with your request by close of business March 9, 2018.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 29,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife.  To learn more, visit our website at www.fws.gov/refuge/blackwater or @BlackwaterNWR.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

Volunteers Needed for 2018 Eagle Survey on Blackwater NWR

Join Refuge staff and volunteers for this annual survey of eagles on the refuge!  This is part of a nationwide survey effort that has been monitoring eagle populations for over 30 years.  Last year a total of 138 eagles were counted during the morning survey on the refuge.  This year’s count will be held on Wednesday January 10, 2018.  The rain date will be January 11, 2018.  On the day of the survey participants will meet at the Blackwater NWR Visitor Center on Key Wallace Drive at 8 am.  Binoculars are available for loan during the survey.  For more information or to register to participate in the survey, please contact Kathy Slaughter by email at kathypaul548@comcast.net or by phone at (410) 463-0890.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 29,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife.  To learn more, visit our website at www.fws.gov/refuge/blackwater or @BlackwaterNWR.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.

Big Game Hunting Program on Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has announced the Compatibility Determination for big game hunting of white-tailed deer, sika, and wild turkey on Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is available for public comment.  The Service developed this compatibility determination to facilitate the evaluation of the proposed refuge use, including anticipated impacts of the activity and stipulations to ensure compatibility.

In addition to the formal comment period on the Compatibility Determination, the public is also invited to attend an open house on the refuge’s big game hunt program. The open house meeting will be an opportunity to learn more about big game public hunting opportunities on the refuge, ask questions, and provide comments on the hunt program in general or the Compatibility Determination specifically.  The open house will be held on Wednesday April 5, 2017 from 6-9 pm at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, address 2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge, MD 21613.

The compatibility determination is available for viewing at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, and on the refuge website at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Blackwater/. Comments should be submitted in writing to the attention of Mr. Matt Whitbeck, Wildlife Biologist, at Chesapeake Marshlands NWRC, 2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge, MD 21613; or matt_whitbeck@fws.gov.  Comments will be accepted until April 14, 2017.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.

Public Comment Period Open for Furbearer Trapping on Blackwater NWR

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has announced the Compatibility Determination for Furbearer Management on Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is available for public comment. The Service developed this compatibility determination to facilitate evaluation of the proposed refuge use, including anticipated impacts of the activity and stipulations to ensure compatibility.

Furbearer trapping, primarily for muskrat, has taken place on Blackwater NWR since its establishment in 1933. There have been no significant changes to the furbearer management program on the refuge since the last compatibility determination was completed in 2006.

The compatibility determination is available for viewing at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, and on the refuge website at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Blackwater/. Comments should be submitted in writing to the attention of Mr. Matt Whitbeck, Wildlife Biologist, at Chesapeake Marshlands NWRC, 2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge, MD 21613; or matt_whitbeck@fws.gov. Comments will be accepted until November 11, 2016.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Seeks Volunteers

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) can use your help! Volunteers are needed to assist with a variety of programs, including staffing the Visitor Center front desk, maintaining the beneficial insect and butterfly garden, leading interpretive and educational programs, biological monitoring, and much more.

Volunteers staff the Visitor Center front desk at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

Volunteers staff the Visitor Center front desk at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

Volunteers play a critical role in helping the refuge fulfill its mission. Over 180,000 visitors from all over the world visit Blackwater NWR each year to photograph wildlife, hike trails, paddle waterways, and enjoy the scenic landscapes. Established in 1933 as a refuge for migratory birds, the refuge has one of the highest concentrations of nesting bald eagles on the Atlantic coast, and the largest protected population of Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrels. With over 28,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and several hundred acres of cropland, Blackwater NWR supports a diversity of wildlife. If you love wildlife and wild places, consider volunteering at Blackwater NWR!

A volunteer workshop will be held at the Blackwater NWR Visitor Center on Saturday, August 6th from 9:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. to update new and seasoned volunteers on current refuge projects. Come learn what has been happening on the refuge, with updates from refuge staff on the biological program, including Hurricane Sandy resiliency projects, the latest information on the nutria project, and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, National Monument and National Historical Park. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to meet Blackwater NWR’s new Refuge Manager, Marcia Pradines. This training session is open to current volunteers as well as any member of the public interested in becoming a refuge volunteer.

To learn more about the volunteer program at Blackwater NWR or to register for this volunteer workshop, please contact Michele Whitbeck at 410-221-8157 or Michele_Whitbeck@fws.gov. The Blackwater NWR Visitor Center is located just south of Cambridge, MD on Key Wallace Drive. Come help make the refuge a better place for wildlife and people alike!

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

Blackwater Needs You

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) could use your help! Volunteers are needed to assist with a variety of programs, including staffing the Visitor Center front desk, maintaining the beneficial insect and butterfly garden, leading interpretive and educational programs, biological monitoring, and much more.

Volunteers play a critical role in helping the refuge fulfill its mission. Over 180,000 visitors from all over the world visit Blackwater NWR each year to photograph wildlife, hike trails, paddle waterways, and enjoy the scenic landscapes. Established in 1933 as a refuge for migratory birds, the refuge has one of the highest concentrations of nesting bald eagles on the Atlantic coast, and the largest protected population of endangered Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrels. With over 28,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and several hundred acres of cropland, Blackwater NWR’s varied habitats support a diversity of wildlife. If you love wildlife and wild places, consider volunteering at Blackwater NWR!

A volunteer workshop will be held on Saturday, August 15th from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. to update new and seasoned volunteers on current refuge projects. Come learn what has been happening on the refuge, with updates from refuge staff on the biological program, including recent bat surveys and Hurricane Sandy resiliency projects, as well as the latest information on the nutria program and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park. This training session is open to current volunteers as well as any member of the public interested in becoming a Refuge volunteer.

To learn more about the volunteer program at Blackwater NWR or to register for this volunteer workshop, please contact Michele Whitbeck at 410-901-6124 ext. 23 or Michele_Whitbeck@fws.gov. The Blackwater NWR Visitor Center is located just south of Cambridge, MD on Key Wallace Drive. Come help make the refuge a better place for wildlife and people alike!

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

Blackwater NWR Announces Partial Closure of the Wildlife Drive

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge will be closing the first section of the wildlife drive on Thursday, July 16, 2015, in order to replace a water control structure near the start of the drive.

Refuge staff estimate it will take approximately one week to replace the structure and reopen the drive. During this time visitors will still be able to access a portion of the drive, free of charge, by entering through the headquarters parking lot.

The area of the drive affected by the closure will be everything from the start of the drive to the Woods Trail parking lot, including the Marsh Edge trail, observation platform, and photo blind. The Woods Trail and adjoining parking lot will remain open.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. For more information, please call 410-228-2677.

Dredging Project is restoring Susquehanna National Wildlife Refuge

Susquehanna National Wildlife Refuge is benefiting from a maintenance dredging project to help improve navigation near Havre de Grace, Maryland. Material from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers led project is being used to build up the offshore refuge, known locally as Battery Island. The island has been severely eroded by winds and waves during storm events in recent years, and prior to the dredging project was less than one acre in size.

The island has been built up using 200,000 cubic yards of dredged sand, and it has been seeded twice with grasses. Next week there will be an additional planting for shrubs and other plants to help complete the restoration. The restoration will create habitat for black ducks and other migratory birds. Susquehanna National Wildlife Refuge is closed to the public to help protect these habitats and provide a protected place for wildlife. Anyone having questions or seeking further information about Susquehanna NWR or other National Wildlife Refuges in the area is encouraged to contact Refuge Manager Suzanne Baird at 410-228-2692 or suzanne_baird@fws.gov.

Susquehanna National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is located in the Chesapeake Bay.The refuge was established in 1940 as a refuge for migratory birds.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov/northeast.