December 30, 2014 – Seeing wildlife conservation in action just gained even more appeal. America’s national wildlife refuges will offer free admission to visitors on these days in 2014:
- January 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- February 15-17: Presidents’ Day weekend
- September 27: National Public Lands Day
- October 12: The first day of National Wildlife Refuge Week
- November 11: Veterans Day
The fee holiday is an annual inducement to visit public lands. National wildlife refuges are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the Department of the Interior. (From the USFWS website)
National wildlife refuges protect many iconic species, such as alligators and bison, whooping cranes, moose and puffins. And they do it on awe-inducing landscapes that range from Oregon’s rocky cliffs to Texas lagoons, from Maine wilderness to woods and fields inside the city of Philadelphia. There’s at least one national wildlife refuge in every state… and one within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. Find one close to you here.
You can plan a refuge visit around a bird festival, wildlife tour or other special event listed on individual refuge websites or on a master event calendar. Or plan your own outing by hiking a refuge trail or taking a drive along a wildlife viewing route. Experience seasonal wonders, such as the arrival of monarch butterflies or great flocks of migratory birds. Hear elk bugle for a mate or endangered red wolves howl in the night. Many refuges also offer great recreational opportunities such as fishing, hiking and paddling.
National wildlife refuges also help support local communities, pumping $2.4 billion into the national economy and supporting more than 35,000 jobs, according to a recent federal report. More than 45 million people visit refuges every year.
Of the nation’s 562 national wildlife refuges, 460 are open to the public. Of those, only 35 refuges charge an entrance fee, generally ranging from $3 to $5. Admission to the others is free. The entrance fee waiver does not cover concessionaire or license fees for some activities such as hunting, fishing or special tours.
Other federal land management agencies that will offer fee-free days in 2014 are: the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. Please contact each for details.
The U.S. Fish & 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.
Five passes are available:
- free annual pass to current military members and their dependents
- free lifetime pass for people with permanent disabilities
- free pass for one year to volunteers who donate 250 hours of their time to a refuge
- $10 lifetime senior pass for those aged 62 and over
- $80 annual pass for the general public.
Learn how you can buy or obtain a pass here.