Enjoy stellar outdoor recreation and the country’s wildlife heritage during National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 11-17, 2020. Celebrate your access to nature on the nation’s largest network of public lands dedicated to wildlife conservation, the National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Founded by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, national wildlife refuges offer access to a host of popular activities while providing vital habitat for thousands of wildlife species. Nearly 60 million people visit refuges each year. You can find at least one refuge in every state and every U.S. territory and within an hour drive of most major cities.
“Through the Great American Outdoors Act, John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, and numerous other actions, President Trump has improved our nation’s conservation initiatives and expanded public access to outdoor recreational activities on our great public lands, particularly national wildlife refuges,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. “National Wildlife Refuge Week is a great time to experience these new opportunities by hunting and fishing at our one-of-a-kind national wildlife refuges.”
Special events traditionally mark National Wildlife Refuge Week, observed each year during the second full week of October. Many of this year’s events will be virtual. The first day is a fee-free day at national wildlife refuges that normally charge an entrance fee. However, nearly 500 national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts offer free admittance to the public year-round.
“The Trump Administration’s priority of providing access to public land and policies implemented by Secretary Bernhardt have bolstered our efforts to help the American people enjoy their lands and partake in outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing on public lands,” said Service Director Aurelia Skipwith. “National wildlife refuges offer spaces for people to gather and experience breathtaking wildlife and their habitats while also contributing to local economies.”
National Wildlife Refuge Week celebrates all the ways people can discover a range of world-class recreation opportunities from hunting, fishing, biking and paddling to trail running, photography, walking and virtual nature programs.
Sportsmen and sportswomen can celebrate with expanded hunting and fishing on national wildlife refuges from coast to coast with new opportunities to pursue migratory birds, upland game and big game, as well as a range of fish species.
Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service permits hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation, including wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation, and interpretation, when these activities are compatible with an individual refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on 430 wildlife refuges. Fishing is allowed on 360 wildlife refuges.
More than 101 million Americans – 40 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older – pursue wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and fishing.
National wildlife refuges pump $3.2 billion per year into local economies and support more than 41,000 jobs, according to the Service’s report Banking on Nature. National wildlife refuges also make life better by conserving wildlife, protecting against erosion and flooding and purifying our air and water.
Findings of a major study show Americans from all backgrounds understand that thriving wildlife populations and places dedicated to their conservation help them and their families live happier, healthier lives.
Learn more about this year’s celebration by visiting: https://www.fws.gov/refuges/events/National-Wildlife-Refuge-Week.html
America’s sportsmen and women generated nearly $1 billion in excise taxes last year, supporting critical state conservation programs. These funds are generated by excise tax collections on hunting, shooting and fishing equipment and boat fuel that is distributed to all 50 states and U.S. territories by the Service.
To date, the Service has distributed more than $22.9 billion in apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects. The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $7.6 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.
The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This fund will protect wildlife habitat and increase recreational opportunities on our public lands, including completing trail networks and expanding hunting and fishing. America’s public lands are for everyone and the GAOA will provide crucial funding for maintenance and care of existing public lands benefiting this and future generations by enabling us to dramatically reduce the maintenance backlog that has grown significantly over the last two decades. The GAOA will fund important maintenance needs for refuges throughout the country and enable us to increase recreational access to America’s public lands by improving recreational amenities, such as fishing docks and boat ramps.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
“I’m proud to call attention to the importance of our National Wildlife Refuge System by introducing a resolution with my friend and colleague, Senator Kennedy, designating October 11-17 as National Wildlife Refuge Week,” said Senator Coons (DE). “Delaware’s Bombay Hook and Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuges provide critical habitats for several species of migratory birds and other wildlife, while also offering great recreational opportunities for people throughout the state. I look forward to continuing to work on a bipartisan basis to support our National Wildlife Refuge System.”
“Louisiana is home to diverse and breathtaking wildlife, and I hope Louisianians take the opportunity to enjoy our wildlife refuges in person during this year’s National Wildlife Refuge Week. I’m thankful for the work the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does to help everyone explore and appreciate these ecosystems,” said Senator Kennedy (LA).
“Wildlife refuges across our nation are a haven for people who want to enjoy the outdoors, especially now during the pandemic. I was proud to introduce a resolution recognizing next week as National Wildlife Refuge Week so we can continue our great work to conserve these beautiful public lands for generations to come,” said Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-5).
“Wildlife Refuges play an important role in conservation efforts, but also support local economies by promoting outdoor recreation,” said Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-1). “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the continued importance outdoor recreation has played in the overall health and wellbeing of folks across the nation, and urban refuges go a long way to enhancing recreational options for people in urban areas. I am proud to celebrate our national wildlife refuge system and Refuge Week; it is only fitting that we recognize all that these refuges bring to our communities and the critical contributions they will provide for generations to come.”
“National wildlife refuges provide an incredible opportunity for every American to hunt and fish. That’s more true now than ever before because of the recent unprecedented expansion of hunting access by Secretary Bernhardt and Director Skipwith,” said Erica Tergeson, Director of the NRA’s Hunters’ Leadership Forum. “There’s no better way to celebrate national refuge week then to get out and hunt.”
“Our nation’s network of wildlife refuges and wetlands are vital resources that not only help protect wildlife, lands and waters across the nation, but are also instrumental in providing Latino and other diverse communities with access to nature and recreation,” said Maite Arce, President and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Access to the outdoors is so important for our community’s physical and mental health, as well as our spiritual well-being. We encourage everyone to visit their local refuge this National Wildlife Refuge Week to learn more about the critical role these places play in conservation and our economy.”
“America’s greatest assets are our people and natural resources that support incredible wildlife diversity and unparalleled opportunities to get outdoors. The National Wildlife Refuge system serves as the cornerstone to modern conservation highlighting the success of wise scientific management and investments made to ensure our public treasures are open for all,” said Pat Conzemius, President & CEO, Wildlife Forever.
“National Wildlife Refuges, which annually support 2.4 million hunting visits and 7.1 million fishing visits, are critical to providing access opportunities for America’s sportsmen and women,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) President Jeff Crane. “The financial assistance recently provided by the Great American Outdoors Act to restore infrastructure on federally managed public lands and waters, paired with the efforts of Secretary Bernhardt to increase access on 4 million acres of refuge lands and waters for hunting and fishing, will ensure that refuges remain an important destination for America’s sportsmen and women.”
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. 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 www.fws.gov.
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