photograph of the El Camino Del Diablo road at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Ajo, Arizona, showing the dirt and sand road going through the desert. There are low shrubs, mesquite trees and saguaro catus along the road. The mountains can be seen in the background. photograph of the gravel auto tour road at the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, Alamosa, Colorado, showing two interpretive signs, a marsh in the foreground, high desert shrub vegetation behind the marsh and the snow covered mountains in the background. photograph of the gravel auto tour road at the Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, Madison, Indiana, showing a gravel road going through a tall oak forest. The road crosses a bridge about half way along the route. photograph of the gravel auto tour road at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Newburyport, Massachusetts. The photograph shows the gravel road going into the refuge. Trees can be seen on the left side of the road. Along the right side of the road is a wooden rail fence. Behind the fence is a coastal meadow marsh.

From left to right: Cabeza Prieta NWR (AZ), Arapaho NWR (CO), Big Oaks NWR (IN), and Parker River (MA). FHWA photographs

More than 40 million visitors come to Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) managed refuges, wetlands, hatcheries and administrative areas every year. Visitors access Service managed facilities using a wide range of transporation systems. While most people arrive using ground transportation in the form of private vehicles, many people also travel by bus, watercraft, bicycle, foot, and horseback. Some refuges in Alaska also permit access by float plane.

Over 62% of the visitors to Service lands drive the auto tour routes and travel the refuge trails. With more than 4,900 miles of roads and over 2,500 miles of land and water trails, refuges, waterfowl production areas and hatcheries provide a wide range of places for the public to learn about wildlife, fisheries and habitat management. Many of the Service's refuges, wetlands and hatcheries are associated with the National Scenic Byways and National Trails.

The Service and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are working together to improve public access to refuges and waterfowl production areas. The improvements being made to roads, parking lots and trails are providing better access to wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities.

As part of the Service's commitment to improved customer service, the FHWA and the Service entered into a cooperative agreement for the management and improvement of public use roads within the National Wildlife Refuge System. The public and interested organization are invited to paricipate in the planning process for transportation issues in the development of the individual refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plans and step-down management plans.

The Refuge Roads Program relates directly to the Refuge System's commitments in "Fulfilling the Promise" (PDF file). This document identified wildlife, habitat and people as the major components of the Service's program to improve the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Refuge System's goals, in "Fulfilling the Promise," are to protect wildlife, enhance habitat, and provide the public with understanding and appreciation of fish and wildlife ecology and man's role in his environment, and to provide refuge visitors with high quality, safe recreational experiences oriented toward wildlife.

We invite you to visit a national wildlife refuge or waterfowl production area, the next time you are out our way.