Unlike national parks, state parks, and state forests, the management priority at national wildlife refuges is "Wildlife First." These lands are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is the only agency of the U.S. Government whose primary responsibility is fish, wildlife, and plant conservation. Public uses of national wildlife refuges must be compatible with plant and animal conservation. Our guiding legislation identifies priority public uses on national wildlife refuges that can be allowed if they are compatible with the management of that refuge for wildlife.
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The federally threatened bog turtle can be found in wetlands throughout the Wallkill River valley and the Papakating Creek Watershed. Endangered by habitat loss and poaching (the diminutive turtle is favored among illegal pet traders), this turtle is an important focus of the refuge’s conservation work. Due to their listed status, refuge public use areas are located away from sensitive bog turtle habitats.