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The US Fish and Wildlife Service's mission is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.



  • National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act

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    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 Comprehensive Conservation Plan (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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  • Comprehensive Conservation Plan

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    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.

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  • Land Protection Plan

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    Plan cover with pintail ducks. © Mike Vesey

    We use land protection planning to study opportunities to conserve land through purchase, conservation easement, or long-term lease. This planning involves the detailed identification of lands suitable for addition to the National Wildlife Refuge System, description of the lands’ natural resource values, and explanation of how the lands would enhance the Refuge System. We look at individual land tracts as well as lands at the landscape, or ecosystem, scale.

    Strategic habitat conservation is our brand name for landscape-scale conservation of habitats. This science-intensive approach to planning has an emphasis on socially viable solutions—working with communities to protect habitats. Strategic habitat conservation is a different way of thinking that leads us to find out, across a landscape or ecosystem, what design of land protection will best achieve habitat conservation. We identify focus areas with priorities for protecting fish, wildlife, and plants.

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