The Division of Visitor Services and Communications manages opportunities for outdoor recreation that draw millions of people each year to national wildlife refuges, boosting local economies. Many visitors take part in heritage sports such as hunting and fishing. Others enjoy walking, paddling, wildlife viewing or nature photography. All these activities offer visitors a chance to unplug from the stresses of modern life and reconnect with their natural surroundings.

What We Do

Our Services

Visitors on a ranger-led hike thrill at a wildlife sighting at San Diego National Wildlife Refuge.

Customer-Centered Focus 

The President’s Management Agenda identifies the National Wildlife Refuge System as a high-impact service provider. Visitor services professionals work to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction by operating visitor centers; designing, installing and maintaining accessible trails; constructing viewing blinds; issuing special use permits; contracting with private concessions and leveraging low recreation fees for facility improvements.  

Through a national visitor survey, the Refuge System monitors visitor satisfaction. The survey is conducted every five years on a rotating basis on refuges that have at least 50,000 visits a year. 

Wildlife-Driven Opportunities 

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 identifies six priority recreational uses (hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education and interpretation). These activities are priorities on every refuge, if found compatible with the refuge’s statutory purposes. 

Hispanic Access Foundation intern Ashley Suarez-Burgos coaches students in archery during a fall festival at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum in Philadelphia.

Nearby Nature  

There is at least one refuge in every state and territory and within an hour’s drive of most major cities. This accessibility makes it easy for communities to enjoy their wildlife heritage. Visitors access refuges by car, by boat, by bike and by plane. The Service works to ensure that the roads, trails and parking areas are welcoming and safe for visitors of all abilities. 

Latest Stories and Topics

Our Library

Girl looks at shell in the classroom
Learn about the natural world through challenges, lessons, webcams, puzzles, videos, podcasts and activities.
woman looking at lake at sunset
This collection includes information about hunting opportunities at national wildlife refuges and on other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lands and waters; about hunter safety; and about other topics of interest to sportsmen and sportswomen.