Clallam: Refuge system celebrated at Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge Friday

DUNGENESS — The public is invited to celebrate a century of wildlife conservation Friday at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.

Events at the refuge located north of U.S. Highway 101 west of Sequim, will include bird walks, educational displays and a time capsule project.

Enthusiasts have been encouraged by the staff of Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex to become a part of history and contribute photographs, memorabilia and other items that depict the wildlife, scenery or plants on the six state refuges.

The refuges include: Dungeness, Protection Island, Quillayute Needles, San Juan Islands, Flattery Rocks and Copalis national wildlife refuges.

Four national wildlife refuges — Protection Island, Dungeness, Quillayute Needles and Flattery Rocks — are on the North Olympic Peninsula.

People are encouraged to bring photographs to the celebration Friday.

Staff will chose several items that best depict the wildlife values of the refuges to include in the time capsule, which will not be opened for 100 years.

Officials said the time capsule will be dedicated next fall and will most likely be stored aboveground, possibly in a special display case in the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex office in Port Angeles.

The schedule for Friday’s events is as follows:

* 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. — Bird walks on Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding area.

Please call 360-457-8451 to reserve space.

* All day — Refuge educational displays, Friends of Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge displays, Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society displays, Admiralty Audubon Society displays and free posters, bookmarks and other wildlife information.

* Noon to 1 p.m. — Official ceremony featuring a ranger welcome, visiting dignitaries and the placing of the first items into the time capsule.

* 1 p.m. — Refreshments provided by Friends of Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge has more than 100,000 visitors a year. They generate more than $2.5 million annually in recreational spending in Clallam County.

The refuge is a key wintering and spring gathering area for brant and other waterfowl.

Occasional marine mammals, including killer whales, may also be seen. The refuge is also a pupping and haul-out area for harbor seals.

The refuge consists of 631 acres of sand spit tidelands — the world’s largest — and forested uplands and is open to the public with limitations.

The entrance fee is $3 per family per day and is open during daylight hours seven days a week.

The National Wildlife Refuge System is the only federal network of lands dedicated specifically to wildlife conservation.

The entire refuge complex land base is relatively small — about 2,000 acres — but refuge rocks, islands, reefs and sea stacks provide nesting habitat for more than 80 percent of state seabirds.

President Theodore Roosevelt begat the refuge legacy March 14, 1903, when he set aside Pelican Island in Florida as the nation’s first bird refuge.

A century later, there are 95 million acres in the National Wildlife System encompassing 540 refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas.

Sharing photographs

People interested in contributing photographs should include the photographer’s name, address, telephone number, and the location, date and time the photograph was taken.

People should also include a return address because officials will send photographs back if they are not chosen to be included in the time capsule.

People wanting to mail photographs can send them to: Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Attention: Kolleen Irvine, 33 S. Barr Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362.

The deadline is July 31.

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