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Spotlight: National Wildlife Refuge System Celebrates Birthday

Spotlight: National Wildlife Refuge System Celebrates Birthday

See how national wildlife refuges are protecting your natural heritage

Canoeing Mingo NWR Canoeists explore at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, MO. (Vergial Harp/USFWS)

What You’ll Find

America's first national wildlife refuge. On March 14, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt created Florida’s Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, established to protect wild birds from market hunters. Today, the National Wildlife Refuge System is the nation’s premier wildlife conservation network, with more than 560 refuges. The Refuge System protects many hundreds of bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian and fish species on treasured landscapes ranging from Arizona desert to Arctic tundra, from Georgia swamp to Pacific atolls.

Getting There

Refuges are closer than you think. Every state has at least one. There’s a refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities. Find a refuge near you.

Make Sure You

Explore the variety of the Refuge System including Wilderness – undeveloped land offering solitude and opportunity for quiet recreation. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the landmark 1964 law that created the National Wilderness Preservation System, nearly 110 million acres managed by four federal agencies. Wilderness is found on 64 refuges – from Florida’s six-acre Pelican Island Wilderness to Alaska’s eight million-acre Arctic Wilderness.

Try This

Any day is a good day to visit a refuge. If you’re in the area, check out these special events on Saturday, March 15, in celebration of the birthday:

For more information on these and other refuge events, visit the Refuge System’s special events calendar.

Don’t Forget

Wildlife comes first. True to their name, wildlife refuges make wildlife the top priority. Refuges helped save our national symbol, the American bald eagle, from extinction, and continue to protect hundreds of other wildlife and the habitats that support them.

Get Started!

Join one of many innovative and engaging visitor programs across the country to discover how refuges conserve some of our nation’s most cherished natural treasures.