National Wildlife Refuge Week begins Sunday, Oct. 10, and continues through Saturday, Oct. 16. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System provides a wide range of outdoor recreation opportunities on the nation’s largest network of public lands dedicated to wildlife conservation.

National Wildlife Refuge Week offers the perfect opportunity to take a walk in nature and get connected to the natural world, the FWS said in a news release.

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“Conservation stewardship and increasing equitable access to public lands is an essential component of the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, a decade-long, locally led and voluntary campaign to conserve, connect and restore 30% of our lands and waters by 2030,” Martha Williams, principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement. “National Wildlife Refuge Week encourages all Americans to visit national wildlife refuges and discover a range of world-class recreation opportunities and take pride in our rich wildlife heritage.”

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National Wildlife Refuge Week is observed each year during the second full week of October. The first day – Oct. 10 this year – is fee-free at wildlife refuges that normally charge an entrance fee. Nearly 500 wildlife refuges and wetland management districts offer free admission year-round.

North Dakota offers more than 30 national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts, including Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge west of Grand Forks and Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge and White Horse Hill National Game Preserve near Devils Lake. A full listing of North Dakota national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts is available here.

More than 20 national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts can be found in Minnesota, including Agassiz, Glacial Ridge and Rydell national wildlife refuges within about an hour’s drive of Grand Forks.

The Refuge System offers many outdoor activities including walking, fishing, wildlife viewing and hunting while providing vital habitat for thousands of wildlife species.

As part of this year’s Refuge Week, the FWS is encouraging people to get out in nature for good health and to help wildlife thrive. Free, self-guided 5K “Walk for the Wild” events around the country will highlight national wildlife refuges.

National wildlife refuges contribute $3.2 billion per year into local economies and support more than 41,000 jobs, according to the Service’s report, “Banking on Nature.” Nearly 60 million people visit refuges each year.

National wildlife refuges also make life better by conserving wildlife, protecting against erosion and flooding and purifying our air and water.

More information about National Wildlife Refuge Week is available here.