News Release

March 3, 2011

Refuge System Celebrates 108 Years

Media Contacts:
Claire Cassel, (703) 358-2357
Martha Nudel, (703) 358-1858

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 celebration is just one of the many to take place in the pacific region:

William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon
An Open House in Honor of the Refuge System Birthday
Saturday, March 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Take a free two-hour guided "behind the scenes" tour with the refuge manager at 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. Advance registration is required; call 541-757-7236. Take part in activities on prescribed fire, local wildlife and plants, law enforcement, wildlife photography and historic structures. Learn more about William L. Finley Refuge at our web site