WASHINGON, DC – Walk, run or stroll in nature during National Wildlife Refuge Week October 9-15. Enjoy great outdoor recreation at the nation’s largest network of public areas dedicated to wildlife conservation, the National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Established in 1903, National Wildlife Refuges provide access to a variety of popular activities while providing vital habitat for thousands of wildlife species.
“Preserving wildlife habitat and improving access to public lands for recreation are key goals of the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative,” said Service Director Martha Williams. “National Wildlife Refuge Week is a great time for Americans to be proud of our rich wildlife heritage and to discover the recreational and scenic wonders that await them at national wildlife refuges.”
America the Beautiful is a decades-long challenge to create a locally led and volunteer, nationwide effort to conserve, connect, and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife we all depend on.
National Wildlife Refuge Week is held annually during the second full week of October. The week of celebration begins on Saturday, October 8th with Urban Wildlife Conservation Day. Admission is free on Sunday October 9th in wildlife sanctuaries that normally charge an entrance fee. Nearly 500 national game reserves and wetland districts offer free admission year-round.
This year, the Refuge System is partnering with the Public Lands Alliance to celebrate our commitment to deepening human connections with nature. As part of Refuge Week, the service encourages people to get out into nature for good health and to help wildlife thrive. Over 30 free, self-guided 5K Walk for the Wild events across the country will highlight National Wildlife Refuges.
The Refuge System offers many healthy outdoor activities, including fishing, wildlife viewing, and wildlife photography, while providing vital habitat for thousands of wildlife species, including sandhill cranes, American alligators, bison, and sea turtles. This year’s Refuge Week theme is “Find refuge in nature. Join us on our mission to make sure wildlife and people thrive.”
The Refuge System helps many species recover and thrive:
Today, thanks to the efforts of Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge, and many dedicated partners, about 340 California condors fly free. In 1982 there were only 22 known condors in the wild.
Refuge-led restorations of tidal marshes in San Francisco Bay and Washington’s Willapa Bay provide new foraging and nursery areas for salmon and migratory birds while protecting surrounding communities.
The Refuge System is an unprecedented wildlife network of 568 National Wildlife Refuges and 38 Wetland Districts. There is a National Wildlife Refuge within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas, almost all of which offer free entry all year round. National Wildlife Refuges provide thousands of species with vital habitat and access to world-class recreational opportunities, from fishing, hunting and boating to wildlife viewing, photography and environmental education.
According to the Banking on Nature report, national wildlife refuges contribute $3.2 billion annually to the local economy and support more than 41,000 jobs. Visits to refuges have doubled over the past 10 years, reaching nearly 65 million visits in 2021. National wildlife sanctuaries also improve life by conserving wildlife, protecting against erosion and flooding, and cleaning our air and water.
More than 101 million Americans — 40 percent of the US population ages 16 and older — engage in wildlife-related activities, including hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing.
Learn more about this year’s celebration, including virtual and in-person events, by visiting: https://fws.gov/events.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.