Growing the National Wildlife Refuge System

Growing the National Wildlife Refuge System

Growing the National Wildlife Refuge System

Growing the National Wildlife Refuge System

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Abstract

The National Wildlife Refuge System is the only federal lands management system with a focus on wildlife conservation. The System includes 568 refuges, with at least one in every state, comprising 95 million acres of land and 760 million acres of submerged lands and waters dedicated to conserving and restoring fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats. Despite their relatively small footprint - just 4% of lands within the U.S. - national wildlife refuges are home or essential to over 500 endangered and threatened species - nearly one third of total listed species. Because refuge lands and waters are expressly managed to conserve and restore fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the benefit of current and future generations, they offer one of the highest levels of federal land protection. Beyond being managed primarily for wildlife, this network is the most ecologically representative in the U.S. and is generally more accessible than other federal land systems: every state has at least one wildlife refuge and most major U.S. cities are within an hour’s drive of one. As such, expanding the system provides opportunities to explicitly address the biodiversity crisis and improve equitable access to nature for all. Learn more through our storymap.

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Growing the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Lindsay Rosa
Senior Conservation Scientist

As a Conservaion GIS Scientist with the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders, Lindsay leads geospatial analysis projects to improve conservation policies and practices.

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