Socially Distant Nature Sharing

Ringneck Marsh Overlook from Oak Orchard Road parking lot - Photo by Celeste Morien
Ringneck Marsh Overlook from Oak Orchard Road parking lot – Photo by Celeste Morien

Hi Everybody! By now we are all anxiously awaiting the news about vaccines that will meet approval for distribution to the public. All of us will especially have to still keep doing what is recommended during this winter surge to keep ourselves healthy! Part of that is getting outdoors in fresh air, despite the colder temps, in a safe manner.

Have you been out to the refuge recently? If you haven’t or you thought about it and wanted to, I’m sharing a day I visited that was safe for myself and my friend, who met me at Mallard Overlook. How did we do this safely?

1. The Centers for Disease Control has great information on how to responsibly share nature. We read what it said here, wore our masks, sanitized our hands and stayed six feet apart at all times: 
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/visitors.html

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2. Iroquois is close to home, so we didn’t need to stop anywhere along the way, exposing ourselves to others.

3. We drove separately. It’s a good practice to reduce the amount of contact you have with another person not of your own household by staying in separate vehicles throughout your visit.

4. There is a handwashing station and outdoor port-a-potty at Kanyoo Trail, but Iroquois does not have bathroom facilities at the location we wanted to see, so we limited the length of our visit according to what the refuge said here: 
https://www.fws.gov/home/public-health-update.html

5. Iroquois NWR is a carry in and carry out facility. We made sure to leave no trace of our visit.  

6. We didn’t share optics such as binoculars, unless we wiped down the items, which is what we did for my spotting scope.

In a short visit at several refuge locations, we had a great time, reduced stress in our lives, saw evidence of the changing of the seasons, viewed American Robins, Cedar Waxwings and Carolina Wrens eating Virginia Creeper and Poison Ivy berries, watched Oak Orchard Creek flow by, heard some birdsong and generally just relaxed while sharing some camaraderie and appreciation for a natural space we both support.    

Iroquois is here for you, too! We all own these spaces as American taxpayers. As we as humans increasingly use the natural environment for our own purposes, it is more and even critically imperative that remnant parcels of what was once a vast unspoiled landscape be retained. Please visit National Wildlife Refuges and support the National Wildlife Refuge System using your voice, with our Representatives, whether you’re a passive or non-passive user, of what are some of the most important remaining places for threatened wildlife in our nation.