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Rules and Regulations

Garter snakes - Frank Miles/USFWS.There are lots of fun, interesting, and educational things you can do on the refuge. Keep in mind, if an activity is not wildlife related and doesn't help in the protection or understanding of wildlife or their habitat, there are probably refuge rules governing this activity. Please check with the refuge management before participating in an activity that could harm the environment or yourself. There are plenty of activities at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge for you to enjoy. Be safe and have fun!

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is a federal facility, and any person, or their property, is subject to federal law found in Title 50 of the US Code of Federal Regulations, and applicable state/municipal law.

  • The refuge is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. Exact closing times for the refuge can be found clearly marked on entrance signs; on-line at, and at the visitor center. **The gate will automatically shut at closing time. Once the gate locks, it will not open again until the next morning. Presence in the refuge after closing hours is punishable by fine and/or imprisonment (50 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) - 26.21 (a)).
  • A Pennsylvania fishing license is required in order to fish within designated areas of the refuge. All Pennsylvania fishing rules and regulations apply when fishing in the refuge. Rules and regulations regarding fishing can be found at
  • Hunting, and/or the collection of plants or animals is strictly prohibited. 
  • Visitors are required to stay on designated trails at all times. Trail maps can be obtained in the visitor center, or on our maps page. Staying on the trails helps to protect fragile plant and animal habitat. Staying on designated trails also helps to prevent tick bites and exposure to Poison Ivy and Stinging Nettles.
  • Pets must be leashed at all times. Pets are prohibited from entering any body of water located within the refuge. This regulation is strictly enforced for the protection of the visiting public, the protection of animal and plant habitat, and to prevent the spread of diseases between animals.
  • Bicycles are allowed on designated service roads. Please ride on the right side of all service roads in order to prevent accidents and injuries to the visiting public. Please refer to the official refuge trail map for designated bike routes.
  • All vehicles are restricted to designated parking areas. All vehicles are subject to Pennsylvania motor vehicle laws within the boundaries of the refuge.
  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited anywhere on the refuge.
  • Fires, or cooking with grills is prohibited.
  • Feeding wildlife is prohibited. This regulation is strictly enforced for the protection of the visiting public, the protection of animal and plant habitat, and to prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Collecting, disturbing, removing, or injuring any animal or plant within refuge boundaries is strictly prohibited
  • For public safety, swimming and/or ice skating is prohibited in all areas of the refuge
  • Camping is prohibited within the refuge.
  • Off road vehicles are prohibited in all areas of the refuge.
  • Remember: Refuges are different from parks. Refuges are set aside for wildlife first. Please help protect them and visitors by respecting refuge rules.
Page Photo Credits — Garter snakes - Frank Miles/USFWS.
Last Updated: Jul 01, 2013
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