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Celebrating a Century of Conservation
Centennial sectionEducationGeneral Interest sectionHabitats and Conservation sectionPolicy Makers section

View the March 14th festivities at Pelican Island.

View the March 13th festivities at Pelican Island.

Centennial news release>>

March 14, 2003, marks a milestone in the history of wildlife conservation in America - the Centennial Anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It began in 1903 when President Theodore Roosevelt set aside a tiny island off the east coast of Florida for the protection of pelicans and other species from market hunters. Learn more >>

Poised for a New Century
Commemorate a pivotal moment in history

It all began with one man and one boat, protecting pelicans on a tiny five-acre island in Florida. From that humble beginning arose the world's largest and most diverse network of lands dedicated to the protection and management of a vast array of wildlife. America's National Wildlife Refuge System now encompasses over 95 million acres on more than 540 refuges and thousands of waterfowl production areas.   Learn more >>

Centennial Campaign and Legislation
Brochure of refuge photographs (PDF)

Centennial Act
The Centennial Act was passed as part of Public Law 106-408 on November 21, 2000. The purpose of the legislation was to: (1) to establish a commission to promote awareness by the public; (2) to develop a long-term plan to meet the priority needs; (3) to require an annual report on the needs of the System; and (4) to improve public use programs and facilities.

History of the Refuge System
If you travel much in the wilder sections of our country, sooner or later you are likely to meet the sign of the flying goose - the emblem of the National Wildlife Refuges.

Explore America's Best Kept Secret

Bill Johnson and son Pete fishing at the Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Click the photo to view a larger
version of this Public Service
Announcement (PSA).

The Walt Disney Company celebrates the Centennial! >>

View the Time Capsule Exhibit Dedication.

image of video playerCelebrate America! View President Bush as he asks the American public to experience the great outdoors during the National Wildlife Refuge System's 2003 centennial. This 1 MB video clip can be viewed with Windows Media Player or RealPlayer. Visit the FWS Online Video Web Site for more video clips in a variety of file formats.

Cover of Centennial issue of Fish and Wildlife News A System of Lands for Wildlife and People, for Today as Well as Tomorrow
The special 68 page Centennial issue of Fish and Wildlife News is now available. (1.22 MB PDF)

Songs Of The System
Songs of the System is a compilation of music and poetry written, performed, recorded and donated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees to commenmorate the Centennial Anniversary of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Also featured is the music of Richard Guadagno, an American hero and dedicated Service employee who lost his life on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001.

This CD is available nationally through the non-profit Refuge Friends Support Groups and Cooperating Associations. All of the profits go directly to conservation and support local projects and programs on the Refuge where it is purchased. For more information visit

America's First National Wildlife Refuge Hosted 100th Anniversary
On March 14, 2003, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton commemorated this conservation milestone in Sebastian, Florida, home to the first national wildlife refuge, Pelican Island.   Learn more >>

Pelican Island Centennial Flyer
Join us for a grand celebratory event on March 14, 2003 - Riverview Park, Sebastian, Florida (PDF)

Refuge Outreach
A "How-to" Handbook to support the National Wildlife Refuge System's Centennial (PDF)

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For a Refuge System Visitors Guide
call 1-800-344-WILD