Tundra Swan Family in Fall

Wildlife conservation is the primary focus of the National Wildlife Refuge System. This involves providing quality habitat by managing plants and water, and protecting essential ecosystem processes, as well as directly managing fish and wildlife species.  In 1997, Congress passed the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, emphasizing the system concept, and unifying management of all refuges under a common mission. To provide guidance to individual refuges and inform the public, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed Fulfilling the Promise, which was published in 1999.  Recently, in 2011, the Refuge System reaffirmed and supplemented Fulfilling the Promise with Conserving the Future.  National-level implementation teams and individual refuges are currently at work improving the management of the Refuge System using both these documents. 

  • National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act

    Sage Grouse Hen

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 provides a common mission for the Refuge System and establishes clear standards for its management, use, planning, and growth.  The Act calls for continued and expanded involvement from the public, States, Tribes, and others who have a stake and interest in how the Refuge System is managed.  It underscores the Refuge System's foundation in an ecosystem approach to land and wildlife management, takes a broad landscape view of wildlife conservation, emphasizes partnerships, and  includes people and society as part of the landscape and mission of the Refuge System. 

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  • Comprehensive Conservation Plan

    Canvasback drake

    The purpose of a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (or CCP) is to specify a refuge's management direction for the next 15 years.  Resources of concern are identified, and these may be individual species, a group of species sharing similar traits, important plant communities, or resources, such as clean air and water.  Next, goals and objectives describing desired future conditions are developed, as well as specific strategies or techniques for achieving the goals and objectives. In addition, future partnership opportunities, visitor services, wildlife-dependent recreation, and adaptive management are addressed.  After providing opportunities for public involvement in the planning process, the completed CCP describes the Refuge's preferred alternative and its effects on the human environment.  The CCP process is designed to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (or NEPA) of 1969.

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