Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) will host a Wildflower Walk on Friday, May 6, 2016. This free event is being offered to the public through a joint partnership between Big Oaks NWR, Big Oaks Conservation Society (BOCS), and the Oak Heritage Conservancy. The wildflower walk will begin at 9 a.m. with participants meeting at the refuge office. Reservations are suggested by calling (812) 273-0783. Participants will travel to a location within Big Oaks NWR and be led on a hike to identify wildflowers and plants. Roger Hedge, ecologist with the Indiana Heritage Program in the Department of Natural Resources, will lead the wildflower walk. Hedge is an expert botanist who has visited the site many times to confirm rare species that the refuge conserves.
Big Oaks NWR consists of 50,000 acres on the former Jefferson Proving Ground (JPG) located in Jennings, Ripley, and Jefferson Counties in southeastern Indiana. The local refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and provides public use opportunities, such as hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, interpretation and environmental education. The refuge has one of the largest contiguous forest blocks in the southeastern part of the state as well as one of the largest grassland complexes; both provide wonderful wildlife viewing opportunities for refuge visitors. Information about the refuge is available at the website: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/big_oaks/
This wildflower walk is one of the “Great Events, Great Outdoors,” organized by the Oak Heritage Conservancy, which consists of 11 free events around Jefferson County this spring and summer. The Conservancy is a nonprofit group that protects natural areas in southeast Indiana. Big Oaks Conservation Society is the non-profit friends group of the refuge and helps the refuge in sponsoring events like these and other activities on the refuge.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 150-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses nearly 550 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts.