march mallards

  • Proposed Change to Fish Program

    Anglers fishing along the Crab Orchard Lake shoreline picture taken by Jim Osborn/USFWS


    Hunting and fishing on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands is a tradition that dates back to the early 1900s. Today, more than 370 refuges are open to the public for hunting and more than 310 are open to sportfishing. Here in the Midwest, national wildlife refuges and waterfowl production areas are a huge part of this tradition. We welcome individuals of all backgrounds and abilities to experience fishing and hunting in amazing places. Across the country, national wildlife refuges work closely with state agencies, tribes and private partners to expand access to hunting and fishing. Hunting and fishing provide opportunities for families to enjoy the outdoors, create memories and pass on family traditions. 

    The Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is proposing to update the refuge’s fishing program and is seeking public comment on the change. The proposed change includes: 


    • Expanding fishing access by 30 days on Crab Orchard Lake east of Wolf Creek Road and A-41 and Bluegill Ponds. The fishing season on these ponds will be from legal sunrise to legal sunset from March 1 through October 15.   
    • Expanding fishing access to the entire state fishing season on Visitor, Honkers and Mangers ponds. 
    • Clarifying the regulations that gas powered boats are not allowed for fishing activities.

    You are invited to review draft documents related to this change, including the compatibility determination, fish plan amendment and categorical exclusion for the fish program. All documents will be available for public comment starting April 15, 2021 through the end of the "2021–2022 Station-Specific Hunting and Sport Fishing Regulations" comment period, to be announced in the Federal Register. The end of the comment period will be 60 days after the rule publishes, which we anticipate to be mid-June. You can submit written comments to the refuge by mail to Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, ATTN: Fish Program Comment  8588 IL-148, Marion, IL 62959. If you wish to comment electronically, please note, “Crab Orchard NWR Hunt/Fish Plan” in the subject line of an email addressed to

    All documents are electronically available on this site. You can contact the refuge at 618-998-5954 or to request either printed or electronic copies. Please let us know if you need the documents in an alternative format.  

    Documents available for public comment review: 





  • Comprehensive Conservation Plan

    bald eagle on nest

    Refuge conservation plans are called “comprehensive conservation plans” (CCPs). The purpose of a CCP is to specify a management direction for the Refuge for the next 15 years. The goals, objectives, and strategies for improving Refuge conditions—including the types of habitat we will provide, partnership opportunities, and management actions needed to achieve desired conditions – are described in the CCP. The Service’s preferred alternative for managing the Refuge and its effects on the human environment, are described in the CCP as well.

    The Comprehensive Conservation Plan, CCP, for Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge was completed in 2006. The plan will be up for review in 2021.
    A copy of the CCP is available online.

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  • National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act

    mallard duck

    National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997: The NWRS Improvement Act defines a unifying mission for all refuges, including a process for determining compatible uses on refuges, and requiring that each refuge be managed according to a CCP. The NWRS Improvement  Act expressly states that wildlife conservation is the priority of System lands and that the Secretary shall ensure that the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of refuge lands are maintained. Each refuge must be managed to fulfill the specific purposes for which the refuge was established and the System mission. The first priority of each refuge is to conserve, manage, and if needed, restore fish and wildlife populations and habitats according to its purpose.

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