(Adam Grimm/USFWS) 

Wildlife conservation is the highest priority of the National Wildlife Refuge System. This priority is declared in the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997. According to this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall ensure that the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of refuge lands are maintained.

National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act

For its first century, the 850-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System had been managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under a variety of laws without comprehensive legislation spelling out how it ought to be managed and used by the public. On October 9, 1997, President Clinton signed the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, which amended the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966. The Improvement Act helps 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 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; and
  • a requirement for preparing a comprehensive conservation plan for each refuge.

Comprehensive Conservation Plan

The conservation plan for the Yukon Flats Refuge was completed in 1987. The plan provides direction for managing the refuge by identifying the types and level of activities that can occur on it. 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.

View the 1987 Yukon Flats Comprehensive Conservation Plan