The National Wildlife Refuge System conserves land and water for the benefit of fish, wildlife, plants and all Americans. Think clean water, clean air, abundant wildlife and world-class recreation. (Photo of bald eagles at Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in California by Dave Menke/USFWS)
The Refuge System includes five marine national monuments. Four are in the Pacific: Papahanaumokuakea, Pacific Remote Islands, Rose Atoll and Marianas Trench. One is in the Atlantic: Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. If you think they’re just water and sand, check out this video. (Photo of a Hawaiian green sea turtle and a Hawaiian monk seal at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument by Mark Sullivan/National Wildlife Refuge Association)
The Blue Goose, originated by cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling, is the symbol of the Refuge System. Rachel Carson, author of “Silent Spring” and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, said: “Wherever you meet this sign, respect it. It means that the land behind the sign has been dedicated by the American people to preserving, for themselves and their children, as much of our native wildlife as can be retained along with our modern civilization.”
National wildlife refuges provide important habitat for more than 380 threatened or endangered species. Many refuges also conserve Congressionally designated wilderness and a range of historical and cultural resources. (Photo of endangered whooping cranes at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas by Diane Nunley)
National wildlife refuges conserve habitat for fish, wildlife and plants. But refuges are for people, too. On hundreds of wildlife refuges, you can fish, hunt, hike a trail, photograph wildlife and enjoy environmental education programs. There is at least one national wildlife refuge in each state and territory. To find one near you, go to http://www.fws.gov/refuges. (Photo of schoolchildren at Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge by Justine Belson/USFWS)
People who live in some of America’s biggest cities are learning about the Refuge System via the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program and 17 Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. (Photo of Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge with Denver skyline by Mike Mauro)
And you can learn about the Refuge System by visiting in person. “Being able to get out on the refuge calms my heart, restores my soul and helps me put things back into perspective. I think it can do the same for others,” says Steve Gifford, an accomplished amateur photographer and regular visitor to Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana, where he took this photo.