Record Crowd Enjoys Fall Nature Festival at Heinz Reserve

A young archer gets instruction on how to launch arrows safely and accurately at the Fall Festival at Heinz Refuge on September 28.
A young archer gets instruction on how to launch arrows safely and accurately at the Fall Festival at Heinz Refuge on September 28.

Over 1600 Southwest and area residents turned out for the Philly Fall Nature Festival at Heinz Refuge at the end of Lindbergh Blvd on warm, sunny Saturday, September 28. The event celebrated Urban National Wildlife Refuge Day and River Days.

“It is thrilling to see so many families attend this kind of outdoors activity,” said a smiling Lamar Gore, Director of the Heinz refuge. “The morning started with our 5k (3.1 miles) Monarch Dash run with more than 80 runners competing. The run was sponsored by the Friends of Heinz Refuge at Tinicum which does an incredible job year around recruiting and deploying volunteers and supporting our educational program.”

Visitors were able to participate in a host of activities including archery, fishing, kayaking, guided walks, crafts, trolley tours, hands-on activities, food, and music. For Southwest residents, attendance was facilitated by a free shuttle bus with service from Bartram’s Garden and the Woodland Plaza.

Trash Academy collaborator Shamaur Williams (left) dressed in discarded plastic bags
emphasizes how we must begin avoiding single-use plastic containers. Plastic bags are used for an average of 12 minutes but take 500 years to degrade in our landfills. TA staff Jada Orr (behind) also stressed the evils of plastic bag pollution at the Heinz Refuge Fall Festival.

“Our thanks to the over 30 partners and innumerable volunteers who provided hands-on learning and activities which helped visitors learn about the mysteries of nature and the importance of preserving our environment,” noted David Stoughton, visitor services manager at Heinz. Partners included Philadelphia Bee Co., and Metro Wildlife Center, PA Game Commission, Environmental Council and the Fish and Boat Commission, Center for Aquatic Sciences, Clean Air Council, PennEnvironment, Circuit Trails, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, Natural Lands, Pennsylvania Art Sphere, Inc., Sierra Club, L.L.Bean, Let’s Go Outdoors, Trash Academy, Riverbend Environmental Education Center, Drink Philly Tap, Audubon, Fairmount Water Works, and Academy of Natural Sciences.

An unexpected coda to the day’s activities was the arrival of no fewer than five engines from area Philadelphia Fire Department stations. Smoke was detected on the roof of the Cusano Nature Center and the local firefighters responded immediately! The damage was not significant and in no way hampered the day’s program.

For more information about the busy schedule of educational, conservation and outdoor activities, visit www.fws.gov/refuge/John_Heinz

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