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National Wildlife Refuges and Free Days: Within an Hour of You

Dec 11, 2015 05:53 PM EST
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Whooping cranes
The Christmas Bird Count, a tally of birds throughout the United States and several other areas, has started.
(Photo : Flickr: USFWSmidwest)

Up ahead, there will be opportunities to get out into nature for no coins at all, on the fee-free days in 2016 at National Wildlife Refuges.

Around the nation, land set aside for habitat conservation covers more than 150 million acres and is on 563 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. In many cases they are free year-round, but about 31 of them charge a small entrance fee for maintenance and visitor services, according to a release.

Some of those that normally have fees are pretty cool. For instance, Chincoteague Island, where you can see wild ponies and be on a Chesapeake Bay island, has a fee but will be free on the designated days below. Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, in south Texas, also is on that list and is a lovely coastal place where whooping cranes spend some quality time. 

Of all the national wildlife refuges 450 are open to the public, and they are designed to be within an hour's drive of every metropolitan area in the country.

The fee-free days are:

January 18 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 13-15 - Presidents' Day Weekend
September 24 - National Public Lands Day
October 9 - First Sunday of National Wildlife Refuge Week
November 11-13 - Veterans Day weekend

The refuges host a wide range of wildlife, too. In some of them you can see alligators, monarch butterflies, whooping cranes or rare fish. There are also opportunities to hunt, fish, or simply hang out outdoors. 

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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