The Role of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Our Vision for a Healthy Gulf
The Service’s Vision for a Healthy Gulf of Mexico Watershed (full document, PDF, 7.8 MB - click here to download a shorter overview document, PDF, 1.8 MB) identifies eight conservation strategies (the how we want to work with our partners) and 16 conservation focal areas (the where we want to work with our partners).
The conservation strategies are to:
The conservation focal areas are, from west to east, are:
The Service is uniquely positioned to be a strong partner in the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico and its watershed. Our mission — to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people — compels us to address the Gulf of Mexico’s most convoluted challenges. It is also our obligation as the steward of America’s national wildlife refuges, the lead federal agency for the protection of migratory birds and anadromous fish, and the colead for recovery of federally threatened and endangered species, including marine mammals.
The Service is also working with the states and others to proactively conserve hundreds more species in the Gulf region, many of which are fish, amphibians, and other aquatic species, in the hopes they will not require federal protection.
With 233 national wildlife refuges in the U.S.-based Gulf of Mexico watershed, the National Wildlife Refuge System is the backbone for a network of conservation lands dedicated to supporting fish and wildlife populations. Along the coast, the Service manages millions of acres on 45 national wildlife refuges from the Florida Keys to the horn of Texas.
Additionally, the Service has field and regional representation in all 31 states in the Gulf of Mexico watershed, crossing five Service regions in the Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, Mountain- Prairie, and Northeast. Throughout the watershed, the Service provides a combination of conservation planning and on-the-ground contributions through various programs such as our wildlife and sportfish restoration grants, refuge management, endangered species recovery work, environmental contaminants response, fisheries, migratory birds and law enforcement activities.
The Service understands that conserving habitat and maintaining functioning landscapes not only benefits fish and wildlife, it also benefits our society in the form of ecosystem services that support healthy and resilient communities and economies. The need for fresh water, storm protection, flood attenuation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, environmental education, fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation, as well as other natural services are shared across communities and are essential for longterm resiliency.
A Timeline of our Involvement in Gulf Response and Restoration
How has the Fish and Wildlife Service been involved? Download this PDF timeline (4.8 MB)
Last updated: September 23, 2013