What We Do

Harebell by Andrea Martinson/USFWS.

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. Selecting the right tools helps us ensure the survival of local plants and animals and helps fulfill the purpose of the refuge. 

Huron National Wildlife Refuge is managed passively. Refuge staff monitor the islands for major issues and intervene when necessary, but the islands largely take care of themselves. 

Management activities:

  • People Management 
  • Inventorying and Monitoring 
  • Wilderness Character Monitoring
  • Historical Site Preservation 

Management and Conservation

A painted lady butterfly by Alaina Larkin/USFWS.

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 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: 

People Management 

Every activity that people can participate in on the refuge has to be determined compatible with the reason the refuge was founded. Staff try to strike a balance between human users and undisturbed habitat for wildlife. Please help keep these areas clean by taking trash with you. 

Inventorying and Monitoring 

Refuge staff may inventory plants and animals they encounter during their visit. Over time, this data can help managers better understand the plant and animal life on the island, determine changes and may help identify issues. 

Lighthouse Island landscape by Steve Gasaway/USFWS.

Wilderness Character Monitoring 

The Wilderness Act of 1964 mandated the preservation of wilderness character in the sites which were selected. The four qualities of wilderness character outlined in the act are that lands are untrammeled, natural, undeveloped and providing solitude. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service routinely evaluates the wilderness areas located on its lands to ensure the areas maintain their wilderness character. If a problem is identified corrective actions are taken to fix the issue. 

  • Untrammeled wilderness is “…an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man…” “… generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature.” – Wilderness Act of 1964 
  • Natural wilderness “…is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions.” – Wilderness Act of 1964 
  • Undeveloped wilderness is “…an area of undeveloped federal land. Without permanent improvements or human habitation.” and “...where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” – Wilderness Act of 1964 
  • Providing solitude, wilderness “…has outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation.” – Wilderness Act of 1964 
  • Wilderness “…may also contain ecological, geological or other features of scientific, educational, scenic or historical value.” – Wilderness Act of 1964 
Lighthouse stairs by Sara Giles/USFWS.

Historical Site Preservation 

The Huron lighthouse and associated buildings were built between 1868 and 1961. The lighthouse has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. These structures help tell the story of our past, what life was like for the keepers and their families and the unique challenges they experienced. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been tasked with the protection of the cultural history and resources on the refuge. As stewards of this resource, we assure historical preservation that connects refuge staff, visitors and the community to the area’s past. In coordination with partners, planning is underway to layout the protective measures necessary to preserve the lighthouse and address the associated buildings that make up the light station.

Law Enforcement

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement officers have a wide variety of duties and responsibilities. Officers help visitors understand and obey wildlife protection laws. They work closely with state and local government officers to enforce federal, state and refuge hunting regulations that protect migratory birds and other game species from illegal take and preserve legitimate hunting opportunities. Contact the refuge manager or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s hotline at 1-844-NWR-TIPS (1-844-697-8477) if you suspect a violation has occurred. 

For refuge specific rules and regulations see our Visit Us - Rules and Policy section of the website.

Laws and Regulations

Huron National Wildlife Refuge welcomes visitors. We want you to enjoy your visit while keeping the refuge in pristine condition for you, future guests and the wildlife and plants that call the area home. During your visit we ask you to follow these regulations which help us ensure our mission.