Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


March 3, 2011                                                                             Contact:            Claire Cassel




                                                                                                                                Martha Nudel



Refuge System Celebrates 108 Years


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System turns 108 years old on March 14, 2011, and many National Wildlife Refuges will help celebrate the noteworthy occasion.


The nation’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside for the conservation of America's fish, wildlife and plants was established in 1903 when President Theodore Roosevelt officially designated Florida's Pelican Island as the nation’s first bird reservation.


Today, the Refuge System’s 553 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts support a diversity of wildlife including 700 species of birds, 200 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, more than 1,000 species of fish and countless invertebrates and plants. Refuges help communities, too, by providing recreation, improving soil and water quality, reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires, and boosting local economies. The Refuge System is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


“Americans are privileged to have such an extensive system set aside for wildlife and their habitat,” says Greg Siekaniec, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System. “The Refuge System is both a national treasure and a reflection of the responsibility we share to protect habitat to meet the needs of wildlife for the continuing benefit of current and future generations.”


Scores of national wildlife refuges around the country will hold open houses and other public events in honor of the birthday. To find a local event, use the “Find Your Refuge” feature on the Refuge System homepage. Or go to the Visitors tab on the yellow bar at the top of the page, and click on Special Events in the pull-down menu. Click on “Display All Events.”  The following celebrations are just a few of the many listed there:


  • Attend a Birthday Celebration

            Saturday, March 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.—Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, UT

            Celebrate “Sense of Wonder Day” with movies and lectures, crafts and activities and outdoor family fun in honor of the

            Refuge System’s birthday and the work and life of Rachel Carson. Learn more about the events. Learn more about Bear River Refuge.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit