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What is a Compatibility Determination?

A compatibility determination is a written determination, signed and dated by the refuge manager and the regional chief of refuges, signifying that a proposed or existing use of a national wildlife refuge is or is not a compatible use. Compatibility determinations are required for all recreational activities, economic uses, or other uses of a national wildlife refuge by the public, or other non-National Wildlife System entity. Compatibility determinations must include the analysis consideration of all facilities, structures and improvements associated with the use. Compatibility determinations are not required for refuge management activities such as scientific studies, or surveys; historic preservation activities; law enforcement activities; and maintenance of refuge management facilities, structures, and improvements.

Economic uses must contribute to achieving refuge purposes and the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

We re-evaluate compatibility determinations for existing wildlife-dependent recreational uses when we prepare or revise a comprehensive conservation plan, or every 15 years, whichever is sooner. We re-evaluate other uses every 10 years, or sooner if conditions change or significant new information relative to the use and its effects becomes available.