Thursday, February 22, 2007

Refuge from the airport

Have a layover? Spend a few hours with a redtail hawk or a bald eagle or a prairie dog. In an interesting marketing move, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is promoting its wildlife refuge system as the perfect layover diversion for airline passengers. Here's the headline from the press release the agency sent out: "National Wildlife Refuges offer quick stops between airline flights for children to stretch their legs and parents to take a deep breath of fresh air."
Among the refuges the agency is suggesting for a visit:
- The 1,000-acre John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, located on the south side of Philadelphia one mile from the airport, where visitors can see blackbirds, hawks and bald eagles from the parking lot.
- Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel Md., 30 minutes from the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, with a variety of waterfowl.
- Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, two miles from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport , a floodplain where bald eagles nest, herons and egrets wade and mallards swim.
And closer to home: The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Widlife Refuge, next to DIA outside Denver, with birds, prairie dogs, and deer.
For an airport-wildlife connection that's even closer? It's not a part of the national Wildlife Refuge network, but Bluestem Prairie Open Space is within walking distance of the Colorado Springs Airport. Watch for coyotes, prairie dogs, waterfowl and rattlesnakes there.

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