National Wildlife Refuge System

Conserving the Future Vision Becomes Reality

As sea level rises, coastal shorelines like this will retreat. Salinity is likely to increase in tidal rivers like this one at Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge, MS.
Credit: Tom Carlisle

From environmental education to outdoor recreation, climate change and urban refuges, the Conserving the Future vision for the Refuge System, outlined in 2011, is becoming evident on the ground.  Regular progress reports and other documents are posted on the Refuge System Web site.

Environmental Education/Interpretation
The Conserving the Future Interpretation and Environmental Education implementation team completed strategic plans, which prioritize 11 action steps over next decade. Among the action items: assessing the state of the Refuge System’s environmental education program; and creating an expanded, online community to connect interpreters and educators. An Ambassador Program is expected to being in the fall to train all employees to interact and communicate effectively with visitors. 


Climate Change
Numerous partners completed Planning for Climate Change on the National Wildlife Refuge System. This will be the go-to document as planners, managers and biologists incorporate climate change considerations into Refuge System planning, including not only its ecological effects but also related social and economic impacts.  Another goal in the plan is to cultivate a front line of Refuge System staff, Friends organizations and long-term volunteers to serve as climate change ambassadors to engage and inspire visitors, local communities and school systems to take actions to mitigate climate change.


Outdoor Recreation

A new strategic plan calls on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work cooperatively with state wildlife agencies to increase quality hunting and fishing opportunities on refuges. New outdoor skills centers are to be established across the country to recruit new outdoor enthusiasts. The Web and social media will provide more substantial information about these recreational opportunities. A new implementation team, the Outdoor Recreation team, has been established to consider how other recreational opportunities on refuges can become more relevant and accessible to all Americans.


White Pelecans
Elementary school children in Seattle released kokanee salmon fry into Ebright Creek, one of the activities in the Laka Sammamish urban partnership.
Credit: USFWS

Urban Refuges
With an emphasis of connecting urban resident to conservation, eight pilot urban partnerships have been initiated. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined local conservation leaders to highlight the partnership at Lake Sammamish, WA, where kokanee salmon runs are being restored in the local watershed.  In Providence, RI, Service director Dan Ashe helped unveil the Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership, saying "We must reach out into cities to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to develop a true connection with wild things and wild places. Our urban wildlife refuge partnerships will help us engage communities where we haven't had much of a presence.”


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Last updated: June 13, 2014