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[This information was originally produced by Beverly Skinner, wildlife biologist at Innoko
National Wildlife Refuge (in west central Alaska), for radio broadcast on Public Radio stations
Happy Birthday: National Wildlife Refuge System
The National Wildlife Refuge system just had another birthday. It was 95 years old on March
14, 1998, and is still going strong towards it's hundredth birthday celebration in 2003.
The National Wildlife Refuge system began in 1903 with the establishment of the nation's
first National Wildlife Refuge - Pelican Island. This small island off the coast of Florida was set
aside by President Theodore Roosevelt as the nation's first bird sanctuary. During his term in
office, President Roosevelt created 51 bird reservations and 4 big game preserves.
From a modest beginning of one small island, the Refuge System has grown to more than
500 Refuges for a total of over 92 million acres. Refuges are now found in all 50 states as well
as several territories. Within the Refuge System are habitat types varying from arctic tundra to
southwest desert to tropical forest.
Refuges were first established in Alaska in the early 1900's. At that time, nesting island
seabirds needed the extra protection that the US government was able to provide. Over the years
since then, lands have been added to the existing Refuges and new Refuges have been
established throughout Alaska. On December 2, 1980, the Alaska National Interest Lands
Conservation Act, commonly referred to as ANILCA, added still more land to the seven
established Refuges and created nine new Refuges.
The purpose behind Fish and Wildlife Refuge lands is not the same as lands managed by
other federal agencies such as the Park Service or Forest Service. These two agencies have
different directives than the Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge System and cater to a different
public. The Refuge system's public is primarily the habitat and wildlife within it's borders. The
use and enjoyment of these lands by people is restricted to those activities which are compatible
with the existing land uses by resident fish and wildlife species. Because of our unique
locations, Alaska's Refuges are open to most recreational uses including sightseeing, nature
observation, photography, sport hunting, trapping and fishing, boating, camping and hiking.
For Alaska Naturally and the Innoko NWR, this is Beverly Skinner. The Alaskan Refuges
contain valuable and non-replaceable fish and wildlife habitat. With continued support for
protecting these areas, my children, as well as all of Alaska's children and grandchildren to
come, will have National Wildlife Refuges to enjoy and visit and use for a long time. They will
also have the opportunity to learn to appreciate the beauty of nature first hand instead of only
being able to listen to the stories of the elders about what once was here. Happy Birthday
National Wildlife Refuges.
Note: This is the MapCruzin.com archive of the FWS Arctic National Wildlife Refuge website. In December, 2001 FWS took this website offline, making it unavailable to the public. It includes 90 plus pages of information and many maps. As of 2006 the important information contained in this, the original "unsanitized" version of the FWS website, has yet to return to the internet, so we will continue to maintain it here as a permanent archive to help inform activists and concerned citizens. If you find any broken links, please report them to me at [email protected] and I will attempt to make the repairs. January, 2008 update - A small part of the original information that was present in 2001 has made it back into the current ANWR website. There is also an archive that contains a small amount of the original information, but it is not readily available from the main website.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2001. Potential impacts of proposed oil and gas
development on the Arctic Refuge’s
coastal plain: Historical overview and
issues of concern. Web page of the Arctic National
17 January 2001. http://arctic.fws.gov/issues1.html
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