Get Outdoors and Celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week October 13-19

Go outdoors and enjoy the natural world around you during National Wildlife Refuge Week, October 13-19. Visit the nation’s largest network of public lands dedicated to wildlife conservation, the National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

This year, Refuge Week celebrates all the ways people can connect to these thriving wild places to enhance their sense of health and well-being.

“There is no better time to rediscover hunting, fishing, wildlife-watching and a myriad of world-class recreation activities than during National Wildlife Refuge Week,” said Principal Deputy Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Margaret Everson. “With newly expanded public access across hundreds of thousands of acres within the National Wildlife Refuge System, Americans have more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. I encourage everyone to get out and visit a refuge near you.”

Since 1903, national wildlife refuges have provided vital habitat for thousands of wildlife species. They also offer access to world-class recreation, nature walks, birding, photography, fishing, hunting and education programming. You can find at least one refuge in every state and every U.S. territory, and within an hour drive of most major cities.

“All over the country, national wildlife refuges are finding new, fun ways to get all of us to look up from our screens and rediscover our love of nature,” said Cynthia Martinez, chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System. “The Department of the Interior has been expanding public access to refuges so that more people can enjoy them.”

National wildlife refuges pump $3.2 billion per year into local economies and support more than 41,000 jobs, according to the Service’s most recent report Banking on Nature. National wildlife refuges also make life better by conserving wildlife, protecting against erosion and flooding, and purifying our air and water.

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service permits hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation, including wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation and interpretation, when these activities  are compatible with an individual refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on 381 wildlife refuges. Fishing is allowed on 316 wildlife refuges.

More than 101 million Americans – 40 percent of the U.S. population age 16 and older – pursue wildlife-related recreation, including hunting and fishing.

Findings of a major study show Americans from all backgrounds understand that thriving wildlife populations and places dedicated to their conservation help them and their families live happier, healthier lives.

During National Wildlife Refuge Week, observed each year during the second full week of October, look for special events, festivals, tours and chances to volunteer at a national wildlife refuge near you. The first day is a fee-free day at refuges that normally charge an entrance fee. However, nearly 500 national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts offer free admittance to the public year-round.

The Refuge System is an unparalleled network of 567 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts. More than 55 million Americans visit refuges every year.

Learn more about this year’s celebration by visiting:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit, or connect with us through any of these social media channels: FacebookTwitterYouTube and Flickr.