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Information iconThacher Island National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts. (Photo: Matt Poole/ USFWS)

At many national wildlife refuges, you can see evocative pieces of America’s past, including fossils, buildings, museum objects and archaeological remains. That’s because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conserves cultural and historic resources found on its lands and waters, as mandated by Congress under the National Historic Preservation Act.

4.5 Million Museum Objects
15,798 Recorded Sites
114 National Register-Listed Properties
1,927 Historic Buildings

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Honoring Our Past


Wildlife refuges exhibit and interpret many historic collections to enrich visitor experience and deepen understanding.

E is for eagles -- bald eagle Lower Klamath Refuge
Petroglyphs, Pahranagat Refuge, Nevada. (Photo: Jeremy Spoon/The Mountain Institute, Portland State University)

Many historic sites and artifacts have deep meaning to Native American tribes and other groups or are located on lands historically associated with tribes. For example, petroglyphs at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada are sacred to the Nuwuvi people. Please respect cultural sensitivities when you visit refuge sites.

Tribal consultation is a cornerstone of the Service’s historic preservation. In 2015 the Nuwuvi finalized a plan with the Service and partners to showcase and respect the rock writings.

More about historic and cultural resources:

Every Refuge Tells a Story
Interpreted Refuge Sites
Civilian Conservation Corps

Shipping Fish by Rail in 1874

Test Yourself

How many historic and cultural resources do you know on national wildlife refuges? Take a cultural resources quiz.

Information iconRuby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada. (Photo: D.C. Carr/ USFWS)