Burrowing owl at Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2016 Free Entrance Days at National Wildlife Refuges

Head outdoors and enjoy America’s national wildlife refuges, which offer unparalleled opportunities to experience the great outdoors and see a rich diversity of wildlife in beautiful natural settings.

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If that wasn’t enticement enough, refuges that normally charge entrance fees will offer an additional incentive—nine free admission days in 2016.

The entrance fee-free days for National Wildlife Refuges in 2016 are:

  • January 18 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 13-15 – Presidents’ Day Weekend
  • September 24 – National Public Lands Day
  • October 9 – First Sunday of National Wildlife Refuge Week
  • November 11-13 – Veterans Day weekend

The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing more than 150 million acres in 563 refuges and 38 wetland management districts.

“National wildlife refuges are American treasures — public lands dedicated to the conservation of native wildlife and their habitats,” said Refuge System Chief Cynthia Martinez, in a news release.

“Refuges protect species as diverse as alligators, whooping cranes, and monarch butterflies. They also provide unique places to hunt, fish, observe nature, and simply enjoy the outdoors. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a regular refuge-goer, a fee-free day is a great time to stop by.”

Ibis at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ibis at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

America is becoming increasingly urban, making it more important than ever to ensure our next generation grows up with a connection to wildlife and the outdoors. There’s at least one national wildlife refuge in every state, and one within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas.

Refuges do more than conserve wildlife and provide outdoor recreation: they help protect against erosion and flooding and purify our air and water. They also support regional economies to the tune of some $2.4 billion annually.

Of the nation’s 563 national wildlife refuges, over 450 are open to the public attracting some 47 million visitors every year. Of these, 31 refuges normally charge an entrance fee, generally ranging from $3 to $5. The entrance fee waiver does not cover concessionaire or permit fees for some activities such as hunting, fishing, or special tours.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service also participate in the America the Beautiful National Parks Pass and Federal Recreational Lands Pass programs. These passes provide access to more than 2,000 national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, grasslands, and other federal lands, which provide a wide variety of nature-based recreational opportunities for the American public.

Burrowing owl at Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Burrowing owl at Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

National wildlife refuges provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species and more than 1,000 species of fish. More than 380 threatened or endangered plants or animals are protected on wildlife refuges. Each year, millions of migrating birds use refuges as stepping stones while they fly thousands of miles between their summer and winter homes.

A hundred years in the making, the National Wildlife Refuge system is a network of habitats that benefits wildlife, provides unparalleled outdoor experiences for all Americans, and protects a healthy environment.

In previous posts on Vogel Talks RVing we have featured numerous national wildlife refuges including:

A perfect days ends with a guided sunset boat tour into this primitive wetland. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A perfect days ends with a guided sunset boat tour into Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…
Wilderness needs no defense, only more defenders.
—Edward Abbey

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