America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016

Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, in partnership with noted conservationists from around the world, introduced plans for America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri.

America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016
America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016

Envisioned as the most elaborate conservation attraction of its kind for fish and wildlife conservation, America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium is scheduled to open in spring 2016.

The 315,000-square-foot educational experience will consist of multiple thematic attractions and exhibits on a scale unlike anything else in the world.

Anchored by an all-new world-class aquarium, the massive facility brings together a variety of opportunities for visitors of all ages to engage with nature like never before, according to a news release from the organization. Through immersive environments and incredible live animal habitats, the experience aims to showcase the beauty of wildlife while celebrating the critical role hunters and anglers play in wildlife conservation by honoring past accomplishments and ongoing efforts.

“Responsible hunters and anglers are often the unsung heroes in conservation despite playing a significant role,” said Johnny Morris, the visionary behind the experience.

“Our vision is to create a world-class experience that celebrates hunting, fishing, and conservation in Springfield where half of the U.S. population lives within a day’s drive.”

America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016
America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016

When fully realized, the attraction will consist of an all-new 1.3-million-gallon aquarium adventure showcasing 35,000 live fish, mammals, reptiles and birds in an immersive tour through the world’s marine habitats; a wildlife museum that brings visitors eye-to-eye with amazing mammal specimens from North America, Africa and the Arctic; and a conservation education center for youth programs, conservation groups and events.

Construction on the project—funded entirely by private dollars, primarily from the nonprofit Johnny Morris Foundation—is underway with a grand opening anticipated in spring 2016.

Specific components include:

All New Aquarium Adventure & Fishing Heritage Hall: The centerpiece is an entirely new world-class aquarium adventure designed by renowned aquarium architect Michael Olesak that plunges guests into a thrilling tour of the world’s oceans, lakes, and streams, bringing them eye-to-eye with more than 35,000 animals.

America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016
America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016

New Fishing Heritage Hall: Visitors will first enter the 60,000-square-foot entry hall, home to a dramatic 300,000-gallon “open ocean” habitat teeming with saltwater marine life including mahi-mahi.

New Aquarium Adventure: Designed to transport visitors to some of the world’s greatest undersea environments, visitors will discover an elaborate trail system that winds in and around marine habitats teeming with life, including a sunken shipwreck, colorful coral reefs, tropical coasts, underwater caves, steamy rainforests, freshwater swamps and more.

New International Fishing Hall of Fame: The new International Game Fish Association Fishing Hall of Fame will highlight some of the sport’s most accomplished men and women through interactive exhibits, personal artifacts and recreated replicas of world-record fish mounts from both freshwater and saltwater species.

All-New Wildlife Museum & Hunting Heritage Hall: Walk amongst the largest land mammals on earth, go eye-to-eye with the Arctic’s top predator and discover some of the most spectacular game animals on the planet in this sprawling 50,000-square-foot showcase of amazing mammals from around the world.

Hunting Heritage Hall: Meticulously recreated lifelike environments will educate visitors about the importance of conserving the icons of the animal kingdom.

Boone & Crockett Club’s World-famous National Collection of Heads & Horns: Experience a part of history through more than 40 historically significant North American big game mammals that originally helped bring conservation to the forefront of public awareness in America when it debuted at New York’s Bronx Zoo in 1922.

America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016
America’s Wildlife Museum and Aquarium To Open Spring 2016

John A. & Genny Morris Conservation Education Center: The conservation leaders of today and tomorrow already gather together at the completed 50,000-square-foot Conservation Education Center, which connects to the Museum facility.

The Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility School: A comprehensive outdoor learning school operated in partnership with Springfield Public Schools, Missouri Department of Conservation, and Bass Pro Shops, is a national model for outdoors education.

National Outdoor Recreation & Conservation School: Which runs outdoor conservation education programs for families across Missouri.

Elaborate Banquet Spaces: With a signature wilderness atmosphere are available for national conservation organizations as well as local community groups throughout the year.

Additional Conservation Partnerships

AmericasWildlifeMuseumAquariumAdditional Conservation Partnerships include the National Archery Hall of Fame and the NRA Sporting Arms Museum which complements its neighbor, Bass Pro Shops’ iconic flagship store. Known as the “Grandaddy” of all Bass Pro Shops locations, this is the largest Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, and the number one tourist attraction in Missouri, attracting four million sportsman and outdoors enthusiasts each year as Missouri’s most popular tourist destination.

Worth Pondering…

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.


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Outdoor Recreation Participation Increases

More than 90 million U.S. residents age 16 and older participated in some form of wildlife-related recreation in 2011, up three percent from five years earlier, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released last week.

Combining Birding and Photography with our life on the road is like enjoying pecan pie with Blue Bell ice cream for dessert following a turkey feast on Thanksgiving Day! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
In addition to nearly 30 bird species found nowhere else in the US, the Lower Rio Grande Valley is home to an astonishing concentration of more widespread birds. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In total, wildlife recreationists spent $144.7 billion in 2011 on their activities, accounting for about one percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

These findings come from the final national report with results from the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation released by the Census Bureau on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, according to a news release from the Census Bureau.

Conducted since 1955, the survey is one of the oldest continuing and most comprehensive recreation surveys in the U.S., collecting information on the number of anglers, hunters, and wildlife watchers, as well as how often they participate in wildlife-related recreation and how much they spend on these activities.

According to the survey, wildlife recreationists spent $70.4 billion on equipment, $49.5 billion on travel, and $24.8 billion on other items, such as licenses and land leasing and ownership.

The number of people fishing, hunting, or both rose from 33.9 million in 2006 to 37.4 million in 2011, with 33.1 million people fishing and 13.7 million hunting.

The Roseate Spoonbill uses its long, flat, spoon-shaped bill to strain small food items out of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Roseate Spoonbill uses its long, flat, spoon-shaped bill to strain small food items out of the water. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The survey showed that 71.8 million people participated in at least one type of wildlife-watching activity, such as observing, feeding, and photographing wildlife.

Wildlife Watching Highlights
About 71.8 million U.S. residents observed, fed, and/or photographed birds and other wildlife in 2011. Almost 68.6 million people watched wildlife around their homes, and 22.5 million people took trips of at least one mile from home to primarily watch wildlife.

Of the 46.7 million people who observed wild birds, 88 percent did so around their homes and 38 percent on trips of a mile or more from home.

People spent $54.9 billion on their wildlife-watching trips, equipment, and other items in 2011 — an average of $981 per spender.

Fishing and Hunting Highlights
Of the 33.1 million people who fished, 27.5 million fished in freshwater and 8.9 million in saltwater.

The most popular fish sought by freshwater anglers, excluding Great Lakes fishing, were black bass (10.6 million anglers) and panfish (7.3 million anglers).

The most popular fish sought by Great Lakes anglers were walleye and sauger (584,000 anglers) and black bass (559,000 anglers).

About 1.9 million people ice-fished and 4.3 million fly-fished.

Anglers spent $41.8 billion on fishing trips, equipment, and other items in 2011— an average of $1,262 per angler.

Of the 13.7 million hunters that took to the field in 2011, 11.6 million hunted big game, 4.5 million hunted small game, 2.6 million hunted migratory birds, and 2.2 million hunted other animals.

Ninety-three percent of hunters used a shotgun, rifle, or other similar firearm; 33 percent used a bow and arrow; and 22 percent used a muzzleloader.

Nearly all hunters (approximately 94 percent) hunted in the state where they lived, while 14 percent hunted in other states.

Hunters spent $33.7 billion on hunting trips, equipment, and other items in 2011 — an average of $2,465 per hunter.

State reports with detailed information on participation and expenditures will be released on a flow basis beginning in January 2013, according to the release.

The great kiskadee has yellow on its crown that is often obscured by the black stripes that frames it. However, if you get a view of the top of its head as I did in this photo, the yellow brightly stands out on this Rio Grande Valley specialty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The great kiskadee has yellow on its crown that is often obscured by the black stripes that frames it. However, if you get a view of the top of its head as I did in this photo, the yellow brightly stands out on this Rio Grande Valley specialty. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

During the initial data collection phase, the Census Bureau interviewed approximately 50,000 households nationwide to determine who in the household had fished, hunted, or watched wildlife in 2010 or 2011, and planned to do so again, states the release. In most cases, one adult household member provided information for all members.

In the second phase, a sample of individuals identified as likely anglers, hunters, and wildlife watchers were interviewed; each individual had to be at least 16 years old and provided information pertaining only to his or her activities and expenditures.

All comparisons made in this news release are tested at the 0.10 significance level.

Worth Pondering…
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,

There is a rapture on the lonely shore,

There is a society, where none intrudes,

By the deep sea, and music in its roar:

I love not Man the less, but Nature more

—Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

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Have RV, Will Promote Tourism Terrace

The Kermodei Tourism Society has taken on a more mobile approach to promoting hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities in the northwestern region of British Columbia.

The society is leasing a recreational vehicle from Nor-Burd RV Sales and Service in Terrace, and has already taken it on the road to tourist shows in Edmonton and Winnipeg, reports the Terrace Standard.

With appropriate promotional lettering and art on the sides and back, the vehicle is paying dividends, according to society general manager Graham Genge.

“At the trade show in Edmonton, people were saying, ‘you’re the guy in the RV. We saw you driving around town,’” said Genge.

Genge said the 2003 Ford Sunseeker also sends a more subtle message—that Terrace is an accessible place to visit.

“We’re really promoting Terrace as a destination,” said Genge. “That’s our Number One message.”

With a tightened economy and people staying closer to home, he and others are anticipating an increase in motor vehicle trips.

Wayne Braun, left, and Wade Muchowski from Nor-Burd RV with Kermodei Tourism’s Graham Genge. (Source: Terrace Standard)

“The north is already popular,” said Genge of circle route options, which include driving across the northern part of the province or taking the Inside Passage BC Ferries run.

“But we still get questions such as ‘is there diesel fuel up there.’”

Closer to home, Genge said the RV will be making trips around the region to various campgrounds, up into the Nass Valley and to Prince Rupert when cruise ships there dock.

“Not everyone goes to a tourist information centre,” said Genge.

“So we’re going to go where the tourists are.”

“We want to be more pro-active. We felt that within reason, we should do whatever we can to promote tourism,” said Nor-Burd’s Wayne Braun.

“Something like this is a huge plus for us.”


Terrace Kermodei Tourism

Terrace, British Columbia is located amidst the thick forests and steep, mountain slopes on a series of terraces that were shaped by glaciers thousands of years ago.

Terrace is the heart of the Skeena Valley and North Coast Mountains.

This is no ordinary place. It’s here First Nations legends come alive, the mysterious white Kermodei Bear roams free and the fish draw anglers from around the globe.

Fewer than 500—that’s the number of Kermodei Bears that exist in the entire world. The Kermodei Bear of the Gitga’at People, also known as the Spirit Bear, has a genetic mutation that’s carried by a few black bears in this area and nowhere else. Every once in awhile—and given the right genetic roll of the dice—a black mother will give birth to a cub of pure white fur.

A shy creature, until recently considered mythical, and one that very few people outside of this area had ever seen. These aren’t albino bears—they’re white black bears.

Home to world-class fishing and hunting, exceptional downhill and back-country skiing, Terrace can boast of year-round outdoor recreational opportunities. Hiking and biking trails for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts, camping opportunities, white-water kayaking and rafting and an18-hole mountain golf course that will take your breath away are just a few of the things that a trip to Terrace can offer.

Fast Facts

  • The Skeena River is North America’s largest un-dammed river and second longest river in BC with up to 5 million spawning salmon a year
  • Best way to spot a Kermodei Bear: Drive along the Nisga’a Highway or Highway 16 during the month of May
  • Best way to spot an Eagle: Drive along the Skeena, Kalum or Nass Rivers during the Oolichan run between March and April
  • Elevation: 713 feet/217 m
  • World-record catch: In 2001 a German visitor landed a 99 pound Chinook salmon on the Skeena River
The Kermodei (Spirit) bear of Terrace, BC. (Photo Credit M. Chevrier)

Address: 4511 Keith Avenue, Terrace, BC V8G 1K1

Phone: (250) 635-4944 or (877) 635-4944 (toll free)


Worth Pondering…

Where Eagles Fly

Take me away
Come on fly me away
Lift me up so high
Where eagles fly
Oh yeah-
I’m alive, I breathe the air
Wash the earth from my face
I catch a glimpse of another dream
I turn, I look but there’s no trace
Take me away
Come on, fly me away
I wanna fly away
Pick me up so high
Where eagles fly

—lyrics by Sammy Hagar

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Enjoy Spring at a Texas State Park

With the redbuds and bluebonnets blooming, it’s time to get outside and enjoy spring in Texas.

(Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

“Much of Texas is still way behind its average annual rainfall, but it looks like winter rains in many areas of the state will make for an excellent spring,” says Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director Carter Smith. “Weather forecasters say we may still be in for more drought, so it’s a good idea to make the most of spring while it lasts.”

With apologies to a certain late night talk show host, here are the top 10 reasons to head outdoors and enjoy a great spring:

1. The fish are biting. The white bass, which travel like salmon upstream to lay and fertilize their eggs each spring, are already running in East Texas and in streams with sufficient water. The action should be starting any day now in Central Texas, with Colorado Bend State Park a perennial hot spot. Black bass are also heading into the spring spawning season with several ShareLunkers already on the board at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Plan a visit to TFFC for an up-close and personal look at these amazing fish. Likewise, conditions along the coast are heating up and a tour of Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson offers a front row view of some impressive saltwater specimens.

Devils River Horsemint (Credit: Chase A. Fountain, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

2. It’s that time of year…Wildflowers. The wildflowers are beginning to bloom in all but the most drought-stricken parts of the state. Prime public viewing and photographic opportunities can be found in traditional wildflower havens such as Lyndon B. Johnson and Washington-on-the-Brazos state historic sites, as well as East Texas destinations like Lake Somerville State Park and Trailway, and Tyler and Purtis Creek. Sandy soils typically produce some of the better wildflower displays, so head to Palmetto, Inks Lake and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area to see bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and other early bloomers. For wildflower sighting updates, starting March 15, call the Texas Department of Transportation Hotline at 1-800-452-9292. 

3. The camping is great. Take advantage of mild days and cool nights for overnight camping in more than 90 parks across Texas. Weekend campsites go early in the spring, so book your reservation early.

4. Go ahead, make some s’mores.In many parks, burn bans that were in place last summer and fall and have been lifted. Depending on the weather and altitude, it’s a wonderful time of the year to enjoy a campfire.

5. Hit the road, Jack. Well, hit the trail. Mild temperatures and relatively low humidity make it a perfect time to go for a hike. Not only will you enjoy the scenery and wildlife, from butterflies to game animals, you’ll burn off those s’mores you ate around the campfire.

6. It’s Texas history season. One hundred and seventy-six years ago, the Texas Revolution was underway. State parks at sites that played a role in the brief but sanguinary military campaign that gained Texas its independence from Mexico include Washington-on-the-Brazos, Goliad and the San Jacinto Battle Ground.

7. Go and park it. If you visit almost any of our state parks on weekdays, you’ll find them far less crowded than they are on weekends this time of the year. Try one of the typically less crowded hidden “jewels” such as Copper Breaks, Seminole Canyon, Caprock Canyons, Meridian, or Village Creek.

Goliad State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Head to the beach. If you don’t like crowds and partying, wait until Spring Break is over, and then pack your fishing gear, surfboards and sunscreen and head to the Gulf sands of Galveston, Goose Island, Mustang Island and Sea Rim state parks. You’ll not only enjoy great beaches, but a variety of camping options.

9. Go turkey hunting. Rio Grande spring turkey hunting season opens in March and Eastern turkey season starts in April. With an abundance of gobblers available, the prospects look good this season.

10. Spring is for the birds. Spring is one of the best times of year for birding. Discover more than 950 places in Texas to see our feathered friends by picking up a Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail or Great Texas Wildlife Trail map.

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Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Texas is neither southern nor western. Texas is Texas.

—Senator William Blakley

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