Refuge Establishment

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Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge (Kanuti Refuge) is one of 16 refuges in Alaska and over 530 nationwide. Kanuti's vision is "for the benefit of present and future generations and in partnership with others, stewards of Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge will conserve fish and wildlife populations and their habitats in their natural diversity, focusing on the refuge's wild and natural character, biological integrity, and scientific value, as driven by biological and physical processes throughout time." (USFWS/Steve Hillebrand)


The National Wildlife Refuge System: 

This network of refuges forms the National Wildlife Refuge System (System), which is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 (Public Law 105-57) strengthened the System by providing a unifying mission and a firm foundation for managing refuges as a comprehensive network of public lands. Prior to this, the System was without a true “organic act,” or law providing it with a unifying mission, and it was held together by a variety of Executive Orders, general conservation laws, and laws pertaining to specific refuges.



The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is:

To preserve a national network of lands and waters for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife and plants of the United States for the benefit of present and future generations.



Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act:

Kanuti Refuge was formed in 1980 when Congress passed The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). 104 million of acres of land in Alaska were turned over to the National Wildlife Refuge System. Nine new refuges were formed and land was added to six of the seven existing refuges.



Kanuti Refuge was formed for the following specific purposes

a.) To conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity including, but not limited to, white-fronted geese and other waterfowl and migratory birds, moose, caribou (including participation in coordinated ecological studies and management of the Western Arctic caribou herd) and furbearers.

b.) To fulfill the international treaty obligations of the United States with respect to fish and wildlife and their habitats. 

c.) To provide, in a manner consistent with the purposes set forth in paragraphs (a) and (b), the opportunity for continued subsistence by local residents.

d.) To ensure, to the maximum extent practicable and in a manner consistent with the purposes set forth in paragraph (a), water quality and necessary water quantity within the refuge.