The National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System), established in 1903 and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), is the leading network of protected lands and waters in the world dedicated to the conservation of fish, wildlife and their habitats. There are 560 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts nationwide, encompassing more than 150 million acres. The Refuge System attracts nearly 45 million visitors annually, including 34.8 million people who observe and photograph wildlife, 9.6 million who hunt and fish, and nearly 675,000 teachers and students who use refuges as outdoor classrooms. Understanding visitor perceptions of refuges and characterizing their experiences on refuges are critical elements of managing these lands and meeting the goals of the Refuge System. The Service collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct a national survey of visitors regarding their experiences on national wildlife refuges. The purpose of the survey was to better understand visitor experiences and trip characteristics, to gauge visitors’ levels of satisfaction with existing recreational opportunities, and to garner feedback to inform the design of programs and facilities. The survey results will inform performance, planning, budget, and communications goals. Results will also inform Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs), visitor services, and transportation planning processes. This Data Series consists of 25 separate data files. Each file describes the results of the survey for an individual refuge and contains the following information: • Introduction: An overview of the Refuge System and the goals of the national surveying effort. • Methods: The procedures for the national surveying effort, including selecting refuges, developing the survey instrument, contacting visitors, and guidance for interpreting the results.• Refuge Description: A brief description of the refuge location, acreage, purpose, recreational activities, and visitation statistics, including a map (where available) and refuge website link. • Sampling at This Refuge: The sampling periods, locations, and response rate for the refuge. • Selected Survey Results: Key findings for the refuge, including: o Visitor and trip characteristics o Visitor spending in the local communities o Visitors opinions about the refuge o Visitor opinions about National Wildlife Refuge System topics • Conclusion • References Cited • Survey Frequencies (Appendix A): The survey instrument with frequency results for the refuge. • Visitor Comments (Appendix B): The verbatim responses to the open-ended survey questions for the refuge.Individual-refuge results for the 53 participating refuges in the 2010-2011 national effort are available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/643/ as part of USGS Data Series 643. Combined results for the 53 participating refuges in the 2010-2011 national effort are available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/685/ as part of USGS Data Series 685.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
National wildlife refuge visitor survey 2012--Individual refuge results
U.S. Geological Survey
Fort Collins Science Center
NWR visitor survey 2012: 25 PDF files; Related Reports: Data Series 643 and 685