US Fish & Wildlife Service
Date of this Version
Expanding human populations are making increased recreational demands on National Wildlife Refuges (NWR). The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is trying to accommodate these demands whenever possible. An important, but not primary objective of NWRs is to provide for various public uses, including recreation (U .S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1976a). The Refuge Recreation Act of 1962 (16 U.S.C. 460K-460K-4) authorizes the FWS to allow recreational uses on NWRs, National Fish Hatcheries and similar lands. This act specifies that all recreational uses must be secondary to the primary purpose of the refuge. While most refuge recreation programs do not conflict with the primary refuge purpose, some conflicts have occurred. Some recreation programs were started before conflicts with wildlife became apparent. Others were not in conflict with wildlife while public visits were low, but later came into conflict after public use increased. Conflicts of this type become very difficult to change because the public has come to expect and demand these recreation opportunities. This paper will discuss FWS attempts to manage such a recreational program at Ruby Lake NWR where recreational boating had grown from low use and little wildlife conflicts to heavy use and substantial conflicts with nesting waterfowl.
Published in TRANSACTIONS OF THE FORTY-SEVENTH NORTH AMERICAN WILDLIFE AND NATURAL RESOURCES CONFERENCE, ed. Kenneth Sabol (Washington, DC, 1982).