What We Do

The National Wildlife Refuge System is a series of lands and waters owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife conservation is at the heart of the refuge system. It drives everything we do, from the purpose a refuge is established, to the recreational activities offered there, to the resource management tools we use. Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge uses various techniques to maintain and enhance wildlife habitat such as moist-soil management, prescribed fire, and cooperative agriculture. Selecting the right tools helps us ensure the survival of local plants and animals and helps fulfill the purpose of the refuge. 

Management and Conservation

Refuges use a wide range of land management tools based on the best science available. Some refuges use prescribed fires to mimic natural fires that would have cleared old vegetation from the land helping native plants regenerate and local wildlife to thrive. Other refuges contain wilderness areas where land is largely managed in passively. The management tools used are aimed at ensuring a balanced conservation approach where both wildlife and people will benefit. At this field station our conservation toolbox includes moist soil management units, prescribed fire, agriculture, monitor wildlife population in cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources and others. 

Our Services

Fees, Passes and Special Use Permits

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is a federal fee area and entrance passes are required for all refuge users. Passes can be purchased at the visitor center or online at recreation.gov. The visitor center is open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. daily.  Refuge passes are available as follows:

One day pass - $2.00 for a vehicle and watercraft, may also be purchased from self-service kiosks located at the visitor center and Devils Kitchen Lake Campground. Little Grassy campground and Crab Orchard campgrounds also sell day passes when they are open during the summer months.

Seven day pass - $5.00 for a vehicle and watercraft.

Annual pass - $15.00 for a vehicle, $10.00 for a watercraft.

Silhouette of a person walking with a shotgun on the tundra

Some commercial, recreational and research activities are allowed on national wildlife refuges only with a special use permit issued by the local office, and are subject to specific conditions and fees. This permit requirement is meant to ensure that all activities at the federal site are...

Kayakers navigating a swamp full of trees and lily pads.

Some 30 national wildlife refuges  charge visitors a nominal entrance fee (generally $3-$5 daily)  to cover road and facility maintenance.  If you are a regular visitor or would like to visit other public lands, you could save by buying an America the Beautiful Federal...

Children in yellow shirts run down a path or trail at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge

The Every Kid Outdoors program allows 4th-graders to see America’s natural wonders and historic sites for free.

Annual 4th Grade Pass

Cost: Free, non-transferable, valid for the duration of the 4th-grade schoolyear though the following summer (September-August).


Law Enforcement

Officers help visitors understand and obey wildlife protection laws. They work closely with state and local government offices to enforce federal, state and refuge hunting regulations that protect migratory birds and other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities.