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Refuge Resource Management

To help plants and wildlife, refuge staff use a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife. Careful consideration is given to various land, water, wildlife and restoration management plans in varying degrees according to the situation. Plans and implementation is monitored and controlled to foster desired plant growth and to properly manage habitat for wildlife.

Sometimes, sensitive areas are closed to the public so that the land or species can recover more quickly. Prescribed burning, mowing, re-vegetation and seeding are also some of the techniques used to help native plants recover on national wildlife refuges. Surveys are conducted to evaluate how effective plans met habitat and wildlife use objectives.


Lands protected through the National Wildlife Refuge System are in public ownership to meet the lifelong habitat needs of fish, wildlife and plant resources. The American public expects that refuge habitat should be protected or enhanced to meet those needs for the benefit of current and future generations. National Wildlife Refuges manage a full range of habitat types – wetlands; prairies; coastal and marine areas; temperate, tundra and boreal forests. Managing these habitats is a complex web of controlling or eradicating invasive species, using fire in a prescribed manner, assuring adequate water resources, and assessing external threats like development or contamination.

Roads and Trails

More than 40 million visitors come to Fish and Wildlife 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.

More than 62 percent 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. These plans 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 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.

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