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 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.

Management and Conservation

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge establishes and maintains critical winter habitat for the Florida manatee, and protects island habitat necessary for migratory and shore birds.

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge protects manatees in Kings Bay, particularly during the winter manatee season by managing seven warm-water sanctuaries. The refuge closes the sanctuaries to public access during the colder months of the year (i.e., November 15 to March 31) when manatees need warm water (> 68 degrees Fahrenheit) for survival. We may establish temporary closures at Three Sisters, House and Jurassic Springs or expand the boundaries of the permanent sanctuaries during extreme cold events. The temporary closures provide additional warm water areas for the large numbers of manatee that winter in Kings Bay. Additionally, the refuge manages the Kings Bay Manatee Protection Area year-round and rescues injured and orphaned manatees within all of Kings Bay when needed.

Our Projects and Research

The refuge is involved in several ongoing projects including manatee protection, monthly manatee counts, manatee health assessments, and the coordination of manatee rescues and releases with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The refuge also provides visitor services, completes bird surveys, and partners with local organizations to restore Kings Bay habitat.

Law Enforcement

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System Law Enforcement program is:

"Through education and enforcement we protect our employees, volunteers, and visitors; safeguard the public’s investment in facilities and equipment; and protect the integrity of the habitat and the wildlife resources of the National trust resource which is the 150 million acre National Wildlife Refuge System.”