The Refuge System continues to grow through a land acquisition program that secures the highest quality habitats, or those that could be restored to high quality habitat. A new and revitalized strategic growth approach was launched in 2012 (A Plan for Strategic Growth) to ensure that the best choices are made when adding lands and waters to the Refuge System.
The growth of the Refuge System will be guided by the following priorities:
The biological planning and conservation design components of the Strategic Habitat Conservation framework serve as science-based criteria that the Service uses to evaluate strategic growth proposals. New proposals must identify priority conservation features (or the surrogate species that represent them) and explain how a project or combination of projects contributes to achieving stated population objectives.