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Information iconCanada Geese, Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, Wyoming. (Photo: Tom Koerner/USFWS)

Wetlands such as marshes, swamps, sloughs and bayous play a vital role in filtering groundwater, controlling runoff, easing flooding, capturing carbon from the atmosphere, and protecting native plants and animals. The National Wildlife Refuge System conserves a sizable share of public wetlands for the benefit of wildlife and people.

Wetlands Across the Refuge System

Information iconWhite pelicans, Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge, South Dakota (Photo: Tom Koerner/USFWS)

For the Birds

Wetlands provide important stopovers for birds heading south in the fall and back north in spring on treacherous annual migrations. More than 200 Refuge System units are clustered along the Northern Hemisphere’s four major migratory bird flyways. These refuges provide critical feeding, breeding, nesting and resting habitat for migratory birds. Millions of birders and nature-lovers follow these migrations from refuge to refuge, bringing vital ecotourism dollars to communities along the way. See our Bird Festival Planner to find a festival near you.

Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific migratory bird flyway map

Wetland Conservation

For decades, funds generated by the sales of Federal Duck Stamps to waterfowl hunters and other conservationists have helped protect vital wetlands and grasslands across America’s heartland. These protected areas are called waterfowl production areas, and they are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.


National Wetlands Inventory

Information iconPintail duck. (Photo: USFWS)