National Wildlife Refuge System

View from Brigantine to Atlantic City Marsh view of Brigantine Trees within Brigantine Scenic drive along Brigantine Wilderness Area

Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge


About Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge


Wichita Mountains NWR
Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge

Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located in southwest Oklahoma, is part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, shown in green in the map to the right. The area was first proclaimed a “Forest Preserve” in 1901, then re-designated as a “Forest and Game Sanctuary” in 1905 and used to help restore the near-extinct bison. Today the 59,020 acre refuge is a mix of rocky outcroppings, oak forests, and mixed-grass prairie, with bison, longhorn cattle, elk, and deer.


Refuge area and Class I Designation

  • In 1970, Congress designated a portion of the refuge as a wilderness area, declaring that the area should remain undeveloped and "unimpaired" for future generations.
  • In 1977, Congress acknowledged the uniqueness of the Wichita Mountains Wilderness by naming it as a Class I air quality area. As a wilderness area it is afforded special protection under the Clean Air Act.
  • Congress gave the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), as the Federal Land Manager of the Wichita Mountains Wilderness, the responsibility to protect the air quality and air quality related values (AQRVs) of the area from man-made air pollution. Despite this protection, many sources of man-made air pollution affect Wichita Mountains NWR including industry, power plants, and automobiles.
  • The FWS is working cooperatively with industry and the State of Oklahoma to reduce air pollutant emissions and protect the air quality and Air Quality Related Values (AQRVs) of Wichita Mountains NWR.
  • If Wichita Mountains is not protected, unique wildlife and scenic values will be threatened or even lost. The FWS hopes to preserve and protect this special area of wilderness for future generations.


Learn more about air quality at Wichita Mountains

Haze from pollution sometimes reduces visibility in the wilderness area. The FWS has begun a program to better understand air pollution causes and effects at Wichita Mountains, in partnership with the national Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) program. As part of this program, FWS operates a fine particle sampler that measures the pollutants in the air responsible for visibility impairment. Within this website are the resources to discover why air pollution poses a threat to Wichita Mountains NWR and what the FWS is doing to prevent the deterioration of air quality in this pristine area.

  • Learn the basics of air quality - Air Quality
  • Understand what are the air quality related values - AQRV
  • Learn about how air quality can affect natural and scenic resources - Impacts
  • Find real time monitoring data and studies being performed at the refuge - Studies & Monitoring



Addition Information:
Regional Air Quality Information (as provided by NPS)
Wichita Mountains NWR Website
Wichita Mountains WA 300km Radius Map (PDF 234KB)

Last updated: November 13, 2012