What We Do

Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the National Wildlife Refuge System. It drives everything on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters managed within the Refuge System, from the purposes for which a national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Learn more about national wildlife refuge
is established to the recreational activities offered to the resource management tools used. Using conservation best practices, the Refuge System manages Service lands and waters to help ensure the survival of native wildlife species.

Red -throated loons and a remote research camp in Arctic Refuge.

Arctic Refuge management activities focus on stewardship of wildlife and landscapes, preserving their wilderness values and ensuring the extraordinary public uses available at the refuge can continue. The range of arctic and subarctic ecosystems within the refuge, from boreal forests to alpine tundra, arctic coastal plain, and the arctic coast, support a diversity of plants and animals. Biologists conduct surveys to determine distribution and population trends for several wildlife species. Researchers study plant communities and snow conditions to monitor changes over time associated with disturbance and climatic conditions.  

The refuge has management responsibility for subsistence hunting by residents of rural villages. Information from surveys of caribou, muskoxen, moose, and Dall sheep supports recommendations for open seasons and allowable harvests.

Management and Conservation

Refuges deploy a host of scientifically sound management tools to address biological challenges. These tools span active water management to wilderness character monitoring, all aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach to benefit both wildlife and people.  At this field station our conservation tool box includes:

Muskox in Arctic Refuge
  • biological research,
  • compatibility determinations,
  • cultural resource oversight,
  • education and outreach,
  • fire management,
  • human dimensions studies,
  • inventory and monitoring,
  • law enforcement,
  • recreation management, 
  • Wilderness character monitoring,
  • and Wild and Scenic Rivers Wild and Scenic Rivers
    The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 established the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and authorizes Congress to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development. The act encourages river management that crosses political boundaries and promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection.

    Learn more about Wild and Scenic Rivers

Each Refuge's main planning document is called a “comprehensive conservation plan” (CCP). The revised Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement was finalized on April 3, 2015. The agency’s decision adopts the preferred alternative in the CCP, Alternative E. Alternative E recommends the three Wilderness Study Areas be designated as Wilderness and recommends four rivers for designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Arctic Refuge CCP is published in four volumes. Volume 1 is available below. Contact Arctic Refuge if you'd like information about this or the other three volumes of the CCP.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement: Volume 1

(This is a large PDF so will take a while to download)

Our Services

Special Use Permits

Arctic Refuge is open to the public year-round. No permit is required if you are visiting the Refuge on your own as a member of a private recreational group. A Special Use Permit is required if:

1) You conduct a commercial activity such as guiding or providing commercial transportation; or
2) You propose to conduct scientific or geological research or other non-recreational activities.

Note that Arctic Refuge has established application periods for the following types of Special Use Permits:

  • Commercial Activities: There are two applications periods – January 1 until April 15 and October 1 until November 30.
  • Scientific Research Activities: October 1 until November 30 (for activities proposed the following calendar year).

Other Activities Requiring a Special Use Permit: Applications may be submitted at any time.

Follow this link for complete application information about Special Use Permits at Arctic Refuge.

If you have questions about special use permits at Arctic Refuge please contact Permits Specialist Maria Berkeland at arctic_permits@fws.gov or at 907-456-0512.

Other Services

The refuge does not provide facilities or services within the refuge boundaries.

Additional services are available outside the refuge and information is provided via web or contacting refuge staff: (907) 456-0250 and arctic_refuge@fws.gov.

Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, Coldfoot Alaska.

Visitors may also explore exhibits and information resources at the Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot, Alaska:
907-678-5209 or 678-2015 (open late May to early September),
and at Alaska Public Lands Information Centers:
Anchorage: 907-644--3680, anch_web_mail@nps.gov
Fairbanks, 907-459-3730, fair_information@nps.gov).

Our Projects and Research

Arctic refuge staff collaborate with partners, organizations, communities and other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service programs to monitor and research the ecological systems and diversity of wildlife in this far northern landscape. Current and recent projects include:

Measuring a female long-tailed duck in Arctic Refuge.
  • Inventory and Monitoring Plan activities
  • Monitoring and researching migratory birds that breed and nest on the arctic coastal plain
  • Aerial moose population surveys
  • Moose research on the north slope and coastal plain
  • Caribou spatial ecology and migration research
  • Dall sheep surveys
  • Arctic fox investigations
  • Snow surveys
  • Fisheries research
  • Wetlands inventory
  • Hydrological monitoring

Law Enforcement

Contact Senior Federal Wildlife Officer Cody Smith at 907-385-7660 if you would like to speak to a Law Enforcement Officer about an issue at Arctic Refuge. If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact our National Tips Line at 1-844-FWS-TIPS (1-844-397-8477).