Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge: Beauty In Abundance | News
It's almost hidden, located midway between Buffalo and Rochester, and chances are you may have driven right by it without realizing what you've missed.
Known also as the Alabama Swamps, the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge has been around since 1958, and encompasses over 10,000 acres of habitat that is a wildlife watchers heaven.
Tens of thousands of migratory birds make their way through each year, and the spring can be an incredible time to visit this little known gem.
"We have over 200 birds on our species list that migrate through here," says Thomas Roster, manager of the refuge. "We're more of a migration area as opposed to a stopping route for a lot of them. Mainly waterfowl peak at 25-35,000 birds in the spring time."
One of the most impressive residents is the Bald Eagle. The refuge was influential in helping restore the species in New York, and has had nesting pairs of Eagles for 15 years.
The eagles nest is relatively close to one of the overlook areas, and provides visitors with a rare chance to get a good look at one of the world's most magnificent raptors.
"It's great, our national symbol out there flying around," says Roster. "It's one of the more majestic birds that people can see very easily because of its size and the location that it nests in. So it's really easy to direct people to be able to go see those types of animals."
Managing such a large area is no small task. The Iroquois Refuge relies on a small army of volunteers to help out. And as much as they contribute, they also get a lot in return.
"Our volunteers give us anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 hours donated to us annually," says Roster. "It's self satisfaction for them that they're contributing to a great cause. They're able to see some of the wildlife they're able to see, they're able to do some of the projects, especially for kids, that they're able to produce."
The team effort at the refuge helps them focus on their main goal, that of education. An effort which in turn ensures the future of the refuge.
"We're trying to educate future conservationists," says Roster. "We know that we're providing this opportunity for wildlife and species to flourish here. We're providing recreational activities...but we've also got to educate the public of the future, to know, and to help, save these areas and to help manage these areas in the future."
With its abundant and varied habitat, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge offers protection and solace for its visitors both animal and human.
A fascinating place...teeming with life...that has a little something to interest almost anyone.
"Whether it's a bird watcher, or hunter, or fisherman, or folks that just want to walk trails and get in the solitude, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city areas, we have something to provide for everyone."
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