About U.S. National Wildlife Refuges

setting the Hackmatack plank on Pelican Island Setting the plank for Hackmatack on Pelican Island in 2012 with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

The National Wildlife Refuge System is a national network of public lands set aside specifically to protect wild animals and plants. Found in all 50 states and five U.S. territories. The Refuge System includes 568 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts covering 95 million acres of land. National Wildlife Refuges are special places with significant natural resources where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acquires land and/or conservation easements.

The National Wildlife Refuge System was created in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt with Florida’s 5.5 acre Pelican Island named the first refuge.


Wildlife Refuges in the United States are visited 34 million times a year, by birdwatchers, photographers, educators and researchers, hunters, fishers, and hikers. These visitors are an important source of revenue for the local economy. Refuges also enhance the quality of life for local residents, both preserving the region’s aesthetic beauty and affording numerous recreational and educational opportunities.

To learn about National Wildlife Refuges, their beautiful visitor centers, recreational activities, education programs and their community partnerships visit another “urban refuge’” – Minnesota Valley NWR.

For additional information visit US Fish & Wildlife Service – National Wildlife Refuge System

Search an interactive map to find refuges all over the United States: Use the link below, or click on the map.

US Fish & Wildlife Service Find A Refuge Interactive Map


Friends of Hackmatack NWR

P.O. Box 413
Richmond, IL 60071



Call 262-448-3558 to listen for the latest updates on upcoming activities. If you need to reach us, please leave a message and we will return your call.

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