3Starfish In Hand

Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge was established to develop, advance, manage, conserve, and protect the refuge’s unique subtropical estuarine ecosystem and its fish and wildlife resources.

  • Picayune Strand Restoration Project

    Soaring White Pelican

     Forty eight miles of canals were once added to Southwest Florida with expectation of becoming central flood protection features to one of the largest housing subdivisions in the United States. Today, however, construction of the planned residential area has been halted and these habitat modifications have instead become the focus of the Picayune Strand Restoration Project.

    Channeled canals covering a total of 55,000 acres flow from Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, through the Northern Golden Gate Estates community, into Port of the Islands, and discharge into the estuary of Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. These channeled water flows and resultant point source discharge have significantly altered the water resources of Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. These changes include mangrove encroachment and salt water intrusion that alter and replace original estuary and marsh habitat critical to Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge.  

    The Picayune Strand Restoration Project is one of many projects being conducted as part of the  Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). Click here for more on Restoring America's Everglades

     As the largest environmental restoration effort in the world, CERP will improve the ecosystem of south Florida through restoration of the state’s vastly altered water flows. More than 50 CERP projects will collaborate with ongoing or planned projects through federal, state, and local partners. These projects will capture and store freshwater that is currently redirected and released into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Collected freshwater will then be directed into wetlands, rivers, and estuaries to provide clean resources that ensure future supplies for urban areas and agriculture. CERP covers 16 counties of south Florida and its growing population of over 7 million residents.

    Restoring natural waterways of the Picayune Strand requires the construction and operation of pump stations. These pump stations will allow natural resource managers to direct fresh water into drained wetlands. The project will also allow resource managers to maintain current flood protection measures on lands outside of the project area. 

    Through restoration of freshwater wetlands, this project will improve estuarine water quality by increasing groundwater recharge, reducing point source discharge, and reducing unnatural freshwater inflows. The wetlands will also act as natural filtration, further increasing water quality. Restored overland water flows will ultimately benefit coastal estuaries like Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge and will recharge the Floridan aquifer. Restoration benefits are already being seen with the reemergence of foraging wading birds and native flora that have been absent in the area for decades. 

  • Comprehensive Conservation Plan


     The frameworks for Refuge management decisions are established in documents 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

    Click here for the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge current CCP 

  • National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act

    2Palm View

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act defines a unifying mission for all refuges, a process for determining compatible uses on refuges, and a requirement that each refuge be managed according to a Comprehensive Conservation Plan. The 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.

    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act was passed to ensure that the Refuge System is managed as a national system of related lands, waters, and interests for the protection and conservation of our Nation's wildlife resources.  

    The passage of this Act gave guidance to the Secretary of the Interior for the overall management of the Refuge System. The Act's main components include:  

    A strong and singular wildlife conservation Mission for the Refuge System  

    A requirement that the Secretary of the Interior maintain the biological integrity, diversity and environmental health of the Refuge System    

    A new process for determining compatible uses on refuges    

    Recognition that wildlife-dependent recreational uses involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation, when determined to be compatible, are legitimate and appropriate public uses of the Refuge System    

    That these compatible wildlife-dependent recreational uses are the priority general public uses of the Refuge System    

    A requirement for preparing a comprehensive conservation plan for each refuge  

     Click here to learn more about the National Wildlife Refuge System   


  • Endangered Species Act


    Signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 28, 1973, the Endangered Species Act was designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a "consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation." The ESA's primary goal is to prevent the extinction of imperiled plant and animal life, and secondly, to recover and maintain those populations by removing or lessening threats to their survival. The stated purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect species and also "the ecosystems upon which they depend." The Act is administered by two federal agencies, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Click here for the full Endangered Species Act 

  • Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

    Marsh LCC

    Protecting the nation’s natural and cultural resources and landscapes is essential to sustaining our quality of life and economy. Native fish and wildlife species depend on healthy rivers, streams, wetlands, forests, grasslands and coastal areas in order to thrive. Managing these natural and cultural resources and landscapes, however, has become increasingly complex. Land use changes and impacts such as drought, wildfire, habitat fragmentation, contaminants, pollution, invasive species, disease and a rapidly changing climate can threaten human populations as well as native species and their habitats.

    Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) recognize that these challenges transcend political and jurisdictional boundaries and require a more networked approach to conservation—holistic, collaborative, adaptive and grounded in science to ensure the sustainability of America's land, water, wildlife and cultural resources.

    As a collaborative effort, LCCs seek to identify best practices, connect efforts, identify gaps, and avoid duplication through improved conservation planning and design. Partner agencies and organizations coordinate with each other while working within their existing authorities and jurisdictions. 

    Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge is located within the Peninsular Florida LCC. Click here for more on the Peninsular Florida Landscape Conservation Cooperative.