Fish and Wildlife Service releases new refuge system DVD

WASHINGTON D.C. (USFWS) - During these difficult economic times, more and more people are discovering the National Wildlife Refuge System, where the wealth of America's great outdoors - its wildlife, its beauty, and its wide open spaces - is accessible to everyone.

And now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering s new DVD that showcases just how many of these priceless assets America still possesses. That's because - since 1903 - Americans have been systematically investing in setting aside more than 150 million acres of land and water for the continuing benefit of people and wildlife in a National Wildlife Refuge System that's the envy of the world. This investment has been generating steady dividends for 106 years and a new DVD highlights some of the best and the wildest places the Refuge System has to offer.    "America's Wildest Places - Volume 4" is a new DVD tour of seven of some of the most interesting and unique locales in the refuge system that is now being offered to the public at a recession-busting price of $6.00.

Volume 4 in this popular wildlife travelogue video series by America's premier wildlife agency takes you from coast-to-coast, from the Appalachian highlands of West Virginia ... to the teeming shores of San Francisco Bay ... to the wild backcountry of Alaska ... and includes a special appearance by President Theodore Roosevelt as a bonus feature.

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge - America's 500th refuge - is a land of great botanical and wildlife diversity, owing largely to the fact it is the largest high-elevation valley in the eastern United States. The evocative close-up and aerial photography of noted Service videographer Ryan Hagerty tells the story of these mystical West Virginia highlands, home to spruce and fir forests, colorful stands of beech and cherry, harbor mink, bobcat, and beaver. Tell-tale signs such as overgrown logging trails, rock piles, and abandoned railroad cuts remind us, too, of the Appalachian pioneers who lived off these lands.

Twenty-two tiny islands sprinkled amid the East's mighty avenue of commerce - the majestic Ohio River - signify the importance of habitat to wildlife in the busiest of locales. Here, strung like a strand of pearls from the metropolis of Pittsburgh through northern Kentucky, the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge secures wetland and river bottom habitat for nearly 200 species of birds, 50 species of fish, and a cornucopia of colorful freshwater mussels - some of the Nation's most critically-endangered species. It's a 300-mile stretch of river that few people - until now - ever see in close-up detail.

Next, it's on to the great bay of San Francisco, where a garland of seven unique and altogether different wildlife refuges safeguard strange plants and unusual habitats around the circumference of one of America's busiest urban centers. Named for an honored California legislator, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is as diverse as the city that forms this region's core.

From its 23,000-acre focus in south San Francisco Bay near Newark - where shorebirds in profusion dot the mudflats and salt ponds of this notable birding hotspot - this refuge's mission branches out to far-flung corners of the bay. Delicate butterflies and evening primroses - endangered species, all - dot the hills of Antioch Dunes, while vast marshlands and the occasional, secretive California clapper rail typify San Pablo Bay. The Pacific's Farallon Islands, far out to sea, harbor a profusion of seabirds, sea lions, and seals. "America's Wildest Places - Volume 4" takes you to these places via the award-winning photography of Service videographer Doug Canfield, to refuges that aren't often open or even accessible to the casual visitor.

Finally, it's North to Alaska's Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, into a 2-million-acre realm of brown bears, sockeye salmon and tufted puffins, where 4,000-foot cliffs rise from the Pacific Ocean, interspersed with fjord-like inlets that may remind the fortunate visitor of Scandinavia. The artistry of Service videographer David Cooper, visually documenting many seasons of change and renewal on remote Kodiak Island, acquaints the newcomer with seabird rookeries and colorful fields of fireweed and salmonberry - Alaska at its most spectacular!

You'll also take side trips to the spectacular Becharof and Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuges, and sail the Bering Sea to Alaska Islands National Wildlife Refuge on the research boat M/V Tiglax, in two other video tours.   As added features on this latest edition in the "America's Wildest Places" DVD series, Volume 4 includes a 3-minute overview of the work of the men and women of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "Conserving the Nature of America," and - just in time for this year's Theodore Roosevelt Sesquicentennial, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of the esteemed conservation President - a series of conservation cartoons featuring TR himself, produced by some of America's most talented young video animators drawn from 16 Art Institute schools throughout the Nation.

"America's Wildest Places - Volume 4" (packaged in an environmentally friendly "Eco Wallet" made of 10 percent recycled materials and printed in vegetable-based inks) is available for sale at $6.00 (plus $2.50 shipping and handling, regardless of the quantity ordered) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service online ordering store at or by calling 304/876-7692. Copies of other DVDs in the "America's Wildest Places" series also are available for sale, at identical prices.