2015 marks the 13th anniversary of the establishment of northwestern Louisiana’s own Red River National Wildlife Refuge.
This year’s annual Refuge Celebration and Open House will be held Saturday, Oct. 17, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is a free event that is open to the public. Guests are encouraged to bring cameras, binoculars, comfortable shoes and socks, and their sense of adventure. Binoculars may also be checked out from the Nature Store.
The new Nature Discovery Outdoor Play Area, designed for children ages 4 through 10 years old, will be open to the public for the first time. The play area connects children with nature in a combined educational and fun experience.
It features a series of outdoor “rooms,” where children will be able to do such things as don butterfly wings and flit about on an outdoor stage, view a nature-themed puppet show, explore the mystery of “rain sticks,” create art from objects found in nature, or become squirrels, jumping on stumps and a natural balance beam. They will be able to leave the indoor classroom behind for hands-on, outside lessons, including the use of natural building blocks and play animals to explore habitat issues. As many as a dozen “rooms” are planned for future expansion of the area.
The 10th Annual Celebration will feature live animals, including a Bald Eagle, native snakes, turtles, baby alligators and a young wood duck. Many fun activities are planned for guests of all ages, including canoeing, archery, hayride refuge tours, face painting, fish printing, and many other nature-oriented activities.
A new activity this year will be a skull maze. Visitors will be given a mammal skull to identify by walking the maze.
The day also includes a guided native plant walk, which begins at 11 a.m., and a nature photography program, titled “Birds, Bugs and Beasts of Red River National Wildlife Refuge” at 12:30 p.m. in the Education Center.
Visitors walking the trails can take breaks to sit on one of the Aldo Leopold outdoor benches constructed by volunteers. Many of the benches and rocking chairs at the refuge have been adopted in memory or honor of loved ones and nature enthusiasts. About a dozen benches were damaged during the spring flooding of the Red River and will be replaced by the Friends. Attire appropriate for walking in the woods is recommended.
A food truck from Counter Culture will offer sandwiches, chips and yogurt for sale while complimentary light refreshments will be offered during the morning in the Environmental Education Center. The all-volunteer Friends group will offer items for sale inside in the Nature Store, including t-shirts, caps, books, field guides, walking sticks, bug boxes, Orni-ments and other nature-related items.
Friends memberships will be available for $15 for an individual or $20 for a family.
The festival takes place at the RRNWR Visitor Center at 150 Eagle Bend Point, which is accessed via the Teague Parkway just south of the Jimmie Davis Bridge. The Red River NWR, federal properties, totals more than 14,000 acres located in Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto, Red River and Natchitoches parishes, with much of the land now open to the public.
For additional information about Red River National Wildlife Refuge call 318-742-1219, visit www.fws.gov/refuge/red_river/ or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/RedRiverNWR.
DIRECTIONS: RRNWR Visitor Center, located at 150 Eagle Bend Point, Bossier City, is accessed via the Teague Parkway just south of the Jimmie Davis Bridge.
IF YOU GO:
When: Saturday, Oct. 17, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Red River NWR Visitor Center, 150 Eagle Bend Point, Bossier City
Admission: Free. (Donations are accepted by Friends of RRNWR via donation jars.)
What to bring: Cameras, binoculars, comfortable shoes and socks, and a sense of adventure. Binoculars may also be checked out from the Nature Store.