News Release

May 15, 2012

Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge Receives High Marks from Visitors

Media Contacts:
Lisa Langelier, 509-235-4723
Martha Nudel, 703-358-1858

Cheney, Washington -  An overwhelming percentage of visitors to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in 2010 and 2011 were favorably impressed with its recreational opportunities, education and services, according to a peer-reviewed government survey released today. Some 90 percent of respondents gave consistent high marks to all facets of their refuge experience.

The survey, commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and designed, conducted, and analyzed by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey, evaluated responses from more than 200 adult visitors surveyed at the refuge between July 2010 and November 2011. Turnbull was one of 53 national wildlife refuges surveyed.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the Service, is the nation's premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat. Refuges protect thousands of species; more than 400 also are open to the public and popular recreation sites, noted for their hunting and fishing, paddling and hiking, environmental education programs and wildlife observation. More than 45 million people visited national wildlife refuges in 2011.

An estimated 65 % of the 177 survey respondents visited Turnbull multiple times over a 12-month period. Seventy nine percent of survey respondents live within 50 miles of the refuge but most nonlocal visitors said that visiting Turnbull Refuge was a primary purpose or sole destination of their trip. The top three activities respondents participated in included wildlife observation (82%), bird watching (71%), and driving the auto tour route (67%).

Prompted by local activists, sportsmen, and naturalists, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Turnbull in 1937 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Located southwest of Spokane, the 16,000-acre Refuge supports an extensive complex of wetlands, Ponderosa pine forests, Palouse steppe, and riparian habitats.  These habitats create exceptional species diversity, providing homes for hundreds of migratory birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, plants, and other life.

"Turnbull's unique Channeled Scabland landscape formed by volcanic activity and glacial floods created diverse wildlife habitats that also attracts visitors from around the country," said Turnbull Refuge Manager Dan Matiatos. "Turnbull visitors treasure their refuge and make the work of managing this special place for both wildlife and people extremely rewarding for our staff, volunteers, and partners." 
Of survey participants,

Some survey participants also volunteered enthusiastic comments, such as this one:"Refuges make me aware that I am a part of the American experience and not just an observer. Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife. Visiting a refuge is truly a spiritual experience"

Among the most popular refuge activities visitors engaged in were wildlife observation, bird watching, photography, hiking and auto-tour-route driving. Most visitors also reported viewing refuge exhibits, asking information of staff or volunteers and visiting a refuge gift shop or bookstore.

USGS social scientist Natalie Sexton was the lead researcher on the report. The survey is available here.