National Wildlife Refuge Sysem Administration Act of 1966

This Act serves as the “organic act” for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, as amended, consolidated the various categories of lands administered by the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) through the Service into a single National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Act establishes a unifying mission for the Refuge System, a process for determining compatible uses of refuges, and a requirement for preparing comprehensive conservation plans. This Act states first and foremost that the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System be focused singularly on wildlife conservation.

This Act identifies six priority wildlife-dependent recreation uses, clarified the Secretary’s authority to accept donations of money for land acquisition and placed restrictions on the transfer, exchange or other disposal of lands within the Refuge System. (Information about the Refuge Improvement Act of 1997 which amended the Refuge Administration Act).

Most importantly, this Act reinforces and expands the “compatibility standard” of the Refuge Recreation Act. The Refuge Administration Act authorizes the Secretary, under such regulations as he may prescribe, to “permit the use of any area within the System for any purpose, including but not limited to hunting, fishing, public recreation and accommodations, and access whenever he determines that such uses are compatible with the major purposes for which such areas were established.” (emphasis added).

This information is from National Wildlife Refuge System website.

Keywords: admininstration, act, improvement, organic, mission, compatible, uses