The Big Dry Arm Spring Storm in the Great Basin Red Cliffs Desert Tortoise Reserve March Morning on the Platte River After a Spring Storm in the Great Basin Hunting Upland Birds at Kingsbury Lake Waterfowl Production Area Sandhill Migration on the Platte River Badlands Sunrise The Green River at Ouray NWR North Park Lupines Moab Sunset
Graphic button showing the 8 state mountain prairie region

National Wildlife Refuge System – Transportation Program

Buffalo Bridge at Valentine NWR in Nebraska. Credit: USFWS.

Buffalo Bridge at Valentine NWR in Nebraska. Credit: USFWS.

More than 40 million visitors come to national wildlife refuges, waterfowl production areas, national fish hatcheries, and other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) areas every year. In the Mountain-Prairie Region, we are fortunate to enjoy the abundant recreational and scenic opportunities available in our eight states - Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Visitors use a wide variety of means to access these areas, including private vehicles, buses, watercraft, aircraft, bicycles, horseback, and by foot.

Over 62 percent of the visitors to Service lands drive the auto tour routes and use trail networks for hunting, fishing, bird watching, wildlife photography, or other recreation purposes. With more than 4,900 miles of roads and over 2,500 miles of land and water trails, national wildlife refuges, waterfowl production areas, and national fish hatcheries provide a wide range of places for the public to learn about wildlife, fisheries, and habitat management. Many of the Service's refuges and hatcheries are associated with the National Scenic Byways and the National Trails programs.

As part of the Service's commitment to improved customer service, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Service have entered into a Cooperative Agreement for the management and improvement of public roads within and outside the lands we manage. Individuals and interested organizations are invited to participate in planning processes for transportation issues via the development of the regional long range transportation plan (LRTP), Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs) for national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas, and other step-down management plans.

Our regional transportation infrastructure (roads, bridges, parking lots, trails, signs, kiosks, guard rails, etc.) is maintained by a variety of funding sources. The majority of our projects are funded under the current transportation bill called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Public Law 112-141 (MAP-21).   The Service relies on multiple programs under MAP-21, including the Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP), the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), and the Emergency Relief of Federally Owned Roads (ERFO) Program to maintain and repair our transportation infrastructure. Some of the programs, such as the FLAP, may also be used to improve infrastructure that we do not own, including county roads traversing through, leading to, or adjacent to the lands we manage.

In addition, some projects are funded with individual field station or regional deferred maintenance funding.  For local projects such as trails and boardwalks, the Service also collaborates with a number of partners at the Federal, state, and local levels, as well as private and nonprofit organizations.

Transportation projects may involve conducting feasibility design studies, hydrology studies, wetland delineations, long-term transportation planning initiatives, safety audits, engineering design, permitting, and environmental review processes under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In addition to the three main programs we use most in the Mountain-Prairie Region (FLTP, FLAP, and ERFO), projects may also be funded from other sources, such as the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), Recreational Trails Program (RTP), and several grant programs such as Sarbanes and TIGER. At this time, a comprehensive list of all the funding sources does not exist, but an effort is underway in the Region to develop one.

The majority (85 percent) of the transportation projects in the Mountain-Prairie Region are administered by our partners at Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD-FHWA) or at Western Federal Lands Highway Division (WFLHD-FHWA). Less than 15 percent of our projects are designed, contracted, and managed by our regional engineering team. A few of the smaller projects are completed by the staff on the national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries.

If you have any questions, please contact the Regional Transportation Program Coordinator (James Graves) at 303-236-4354 or 303-916-3698 or via email at For detailed information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Transportation Program, please visit the national website at


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: January 24, 2017
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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