In January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released the final strategic growth policy for the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The policy frames the growth of the Refuge System according to the following three priorities:
– Recovery of threatened and endangered species
– Implementation of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan
– Migratory Birds of Conservation Concern
The National Wildlife Refuge System is the America’s largest and most diverse collection of public lands and waters dedicated to wildlife conservation. The Refuge System was established in 1903, when President Theodore Roosevelt used an Executive Order to set aside the five-acre Pelican Island in Florida as a refuge and breeding ground for birds.
Since then, it has grown into a nationwide network that includes remote coral atolls, expansive wilderness and wildlife oases near many large U.S. cities. Currently, the Refuge System includes more than 560 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts covering over 150 million acres. More than 418 million acres of marine national monuments are also included in the system.
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 habitats.
The final policy reflects input from a wide variety of stakeholders including not-for-profit organizations, industry, states and individual members of the public.
The final strategic growth policy published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2015.
source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service