National Wildlife Refuges

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Whooping Crane, © Klaus Nigge / National Geographic Stock

© Klaus Nigge / National Geographic Stock
Defenders of Wildlife is working to protect and strengthen the National Wildlife Refuge System, the only system of federal lands in the United States dedicated to wildlife conservation.

A New Vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System

In October 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopted a new vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Defenders has been actively involved in the development of this vision and is working to ensure its success in guiding America’s refuges through the conservation challenges of the future.

Learn about President Jamie Rappaport Clark’s vision for the Refuge System in this video and blog. >>

Defenders of Wildlife Strategic Growth Policy Comments >>

Read our comments on the draft vision here. (PDF) >>

Read our recommendations for a new land protection strategy for the Refuge System. (PDF) >>

Refuge Funding

Years of stagnant budgets have ballooned the operations and maintenance backlog of the National Wildlife Refuge System to more than $3.3 billion in 2011. Most refuges are forced to operate with only minimal staffing, and 36% of refuges have no staff on site. With this limited capacity, refuge managers struggle to adequately manage wildlife habitat while tackling such challenges as climate change, oil and gas activity, and law enforcement.

Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement

In recognition of these problems, the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) is working to help the Refuge System fight this serious funding crisis. CARE is a diverse coalition of 22 conservation, sporting, recreation, and scientific organizations that represent more than 15 million members. Defenders of Wildlife has been an active member of the coalition since its inception in 1995.

Read CARE’s report 2013, America’s Wildlife Refuges: Delivering the Unexpected (PDF) >>

Read the Refuge Chief’s Memo on the Effects of Budget Reductions and Sequestration (PDF) >>

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