National Wildlife Refuge System Policies
We establish policy for implementing the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended, and the Wilderness Act of 1964 as Part 610 Chapters 1-5 of the Fish and Wildlife Service Manual. In the Wilderness Act, Congress called for the establishment of a National Wilderness Preservation System to secure an "enduring resource of wilderness" for the American public. This policy updates guidance on administrative and public activities on wilderness within the National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System).
To download the Wilderness Stewardship policy chapters (610 FW 1-5), please click here.
The Notice of Availability announcing the NWRS wilderness policy published in the Federal Register on November 17, 2008. This NOA contains background information and a chart detailing the differences between the original policy and this final document. Please click on the following link to access the NOA: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-27104.pdf.
Please note that this page address has changed. The new URL is http://www.fws.gov/refuges/policiesandBudget/refugepolicies.html
Publication of Draft Mosquito and Mosquito-Borne Disease Management Policy in the Federal Register
On October 15, 2007, the Federal Register published a draft mosquito management policy developed to provide consistent guidance for determining the conditions under which national wildlife refuges will control mosquitoes. Publication in the Federal Register opens a 45-day period (ending November 29, 2007) for public comment on the draft policy.
To view the Federal Register text of the draft policy, go to: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/pdf/E7-20201.pdf.
Publication of Three Policies in Federal Register
The Federal Register published on June 26, 2006 notices of availability for three policies implementing the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997. The policies are known as Mission and Goals and Refuge Purposes, Appropriate Uses, and Wildlife-Dependent Recreation. Effective July 26, 2006, these policies provide general goals for the Refuge System. In addition, they provide guidance to refuge managers in a number of areas, including determining appropriate refuge uses and developing wildlife-dependent recreation. To read the Federal Register text, go to
Appropriate Refuge Uses Policy
Mission Goals and Purposes Policy
Wildlife-Dependent Recreation Policy
Policy Text from Service Manual Links >>
Three Policies Implementing the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 Fact Sheet >> (1.5 MB PDF)
Service Manual Chapter Establishes Procedures for Strengthening Relations with States
In December 2002, a Director's Order established procedure for working more closely with State fish and wildlife agencies on policies affecting the National Wildlife Refuge System. In a letter to the State fish and wildlife agency directors, along with a memorandum to all Regional Directors, the Director stated he now expects the Service to provide "early and close coordination and cooperation" with our State counterparts. This Director's Order was converted to a Service Manual Chapter (601 FW7) on August 25, 2008.
The following policies provide frameworks for refuge managers to continue to sensibly manage refuge lands: Biological Integrity, Diversity, and Environmental Health Policy (published January 16, 2001, effective April 16, 2001) (http://www.fws.gov/policy/library/01fr3809.pdf) guides System personnel in implementing the clause of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 directing the Secretary of the Interior to ensure that we maintain the "biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health" of the System. Compatibility Policy (published October 18, 2000, effective November 17, 2000) (http://www.fws.gov/policy/library/00fr62457.pdf) established "priority general public uses" – uses involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, and environmental education and interpretation – that, when compatible, are especially welcome on refuges and receive priority over other uses. Refuge Planning Policy (published and effective May 25, 2000) (http://www.fws.gov/policy/library/00fr33891.pdf) established requirements and guidance for System planning, including comprehensive conservation plans and step-down management plans.
Writing Refuge Management Goals and Objectives: A Handbook provides guidance on how to implement refuge planning policy. Download "Writing Refuge Goals" in PDF format. (2/25/04).
If you have any questions, you may contact us at:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
National Wildlife Refuge System
Division of Conservation Planning and Policy
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 670
Arlington, Virginia 22203
(703) 359-2154 (FAX)
Last updated: June 12, 2009