Wildlife refuge offers Let's Go Outside event

·3 min read

Jun. 23—NEWBURYPORT — The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge will offer free surfcasting, archery lessons and other activities during its annual Let's Go Outside event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Project leader Matthew Hillman said the event is designed to let people know what the refuge offers. The refuge comprises roughly four miles of federal public land on Plum Island.

Public Lands Transportation fellow Ella Weber said Let's Go Outside day will be the first celebrated as an open streets event, eliminating vehicle access from the main refuge road to allow for people to bike, walk or roll.

"People will be able to use that space to travel however they feel fit, up and down the road without having to contend with cars," she said. "We really want this to be an area where people of all ages and abilities will feel safe to play and take in the refuge, the sights and all of the different programs that we have available."

Parking will be available in the refuge's first parking lot at 6 Plum Island Turnpike, while free shuttles will travel to the many activities, including a scavenger hunt that will take place throughout the refuge. People can also learn to surf fish with Plum Island Surfcasters from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"You can go surfcasting for striped bass and other fish species from the shoreline," Hillman said.

Surfcasting is an excellent way to introduce people, especially children, to fishing, according to Hillman.

"We will be teaching first-time fisherman, youth and adults, how to fish off of Plum Island Beach with rod and reel fishing poles," he said. "If people don't have fishing poles, we have a lot of loaner equipment that we will be able to lend out."

Arts and crafts and story time will be offered and a raptor program will take place at the Visitor Center from 1 to 2 p.m.

A raptor photo opportunity will take place at the Visitor Center from 2 to 3 p.m.

"The instructor will stick around with the birds of prey after the program so that folks can ask questions and take photos with them," Weber said.

Archery lessons will be available and a bike rodeo will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"A bike coordinator and educator will set up an obstacle course with cones where kids, and even adults, can practice navigating that space in a safe, controlled area," Weber said.

The refuge's primary goal is to connect people to nature through active, outdoor recreation. The refuge will offer kayaking and boat safety lessons Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Three federal wildlife officers will be on hand throughout the day to let people know what they do and to speak about some of the tools of their trade.

"They will be talking about what it means to be a wildlife officer and what the training and educational requirements are," Hillman said. "They will also be teaching people how to fish and how to do archery."

Hillman said the event will mean a delayed opening of the refuge, with no vehicle access allowed before 10 a.m.

"If you are a biker or a pedestrian, you can certainly walk in before 10 a.m. But there will be no vehicle access before then," he said.

For more information, go to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge website at www.fws.gov/refuge/parker-river.

People who have questions can also call 978-465-5753.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.