Oil and gas exploration and development are allowed in specific situations on National Wildlife Refuge System lands and waters. These activities most often occur where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquired surface rights to the land, but the mineral estate remained in private or state ownership.

What We Do

Our Laws and Regulations

As part of its commitment to conserve America's wildlife legacy for the benefit of all Americans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 finalized a rule governing the management of non-federal oil and gas development on National Wildlife Refuge System lands. The revisions to the 50-year-old regulations allow for the continued responsible extraction of oil and gas, but require closer adherence to industry best management practices. These practices help curb the potentially hazardous abandonment of infrastructure and on-refuge disposal of debris.

Download a copy of the final rule.

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refuges-with-oil-and-gas-infrastructure

A map showing refuges across the country with oil wells and pipelines.

In 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revised regulations governing the management of non-federal oil and gas activities on National Wildlife Refuge System lands.