Laws and Regulations

Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge system has special regulations about what you can and cannot do. You can find these regulations in the 50 Code of Federal Regulations - Subchapter C. Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge has additional hunting and fishing regulations [50 CFR, §32.55(e)]

Refuges are special places where wildlife comes first. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was founded. 

Special Use Permits (SUP)

Permits are required to do special activities, to access a closed area and for all commercial activities. Permits enable the public to engage in wildlife-related activities while protecting wildlife. Some permits promote conservation by authorizing research, generating data, or allowing wildlife management and rehabilitation activities to go forward. Special use permits are free but take one week to process. Not completing a special use permit is prohibited.

For an application and more information email Melissa Robell at or call (580) 626-4794.

Special Use Permits are required for:

  • General Activity - Woodcutting, fishing tournaments, one-time events, education activity, etc.
  • Research and Monitoring - research and monitoring activities by students, universities, or other non-FWS organizations
  • Commercial - guiding, agriculture, trapping, audio, video, and photographic products of monetary value

Commercial photography and filming:

All commercial activities require a special use permit. The refuge offers two types of free permits, an annual (good for one year) and one-time. Annual permits must occur in a public use area (ex: trail, auto tour) and occur from sunrise to sunset. One time permits include night photography and special salt flats access. The permittee is allowed to access the salt flats 25 feet beyond the Closed Area signs.

For all permits:
  • Drones are prohibited.
  • No litter allowed (ex: smoke bombs, confetti). 
  • Permittee must carry a signed copy while on refuge property.
  • Artificial light must be preapproved.

National Wildlife Refuge System Laws

The Endangered Species Act establishes protections for fish, wildlife, and plants that are listed as threatened or endangered; provides for adding species to and removing them from the list of threatened and endangered species, and for preparing and implementing plans for their recovery;...

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 703-712) implements four international conservation treaties that the U.S. entered into with Canada in 1916, Mexico in 1936, Japan in 1972, and Russia in 1976. It is intended to ensure the sustainability of populations of all protected migratory...

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) provides that the Service examine the environmental impacts, incorporate environmental information, and use public participation in the planning and implementation of all actions; integrate NEPA with other planning requirements; prepare NEPA...

An aerial view of pelican island.

The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act provides authority, guidelines and directives for the Service to improve the National Wildlife Refuge System; administers a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and restoration of fish, wildlife and plant...

Spells out wildlife conservation as the fundamental mission of the Refuge System; requires comprehensive conservation planning to guide management of the Refuge System; directs the involvement of private citizens in land management decisions; and provides that compatible wildlife-dependent...