About Us

National wildlife refuges are affected by a wide range of pollutants that contaminate land, water and air. Contaminants include oil and brine spilled during mineral resource extraction, pesticides applied by former landowners and toxic chemicals leaking from electrical transformers. Some refuges — such as Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver and Vieques National Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico — bear remnants of their former use as Defense Department sites used to manufacture chemical weapons or test bombs.

Acceptance of these lands and waters involved careful remediation planning, subject to oversight by the Service’s environmental contaminants specialists. These experts ensure that environmental cleanups consider both the immediate area of impact and surrounding areas. They work closely with engineers and rehabilitation experts to minimize toxicological and ecological risks and restore the site to a safe and inhabitable condition.