The publication entitled, Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation, is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s bold, new vision for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Service released Conserving the Future as the culmination of 18 months of study and public conversation about conservation and the future of the Refuge System.

Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation

(Click on the link above to download the vision document, download just the Executive Summary, or read a text-only version of the recommendations in the vision)

This 21st-century strategic vision for the Refuge System acknowledges the broad social, political, and economic changes that have made habitat conservation more challenging since the agency last set comprehensive goals in 1999. In the intervening 12 years, the new vision states the nation’s population has grown “larger and more diverse … and the landscape for conservation has changed—there is less undeveloped land, more invasive species, and we are experiencing the impacts of a changing climate.”

The Process

In an extraordinarily transparent process, the Service launched an online conversation from this website about conservation starting in the fall of 2010 to distill the new Refuge System vision. The National Wildlife Refuge Association continues to maintain this site at as a hub for activities and information about implementation of the Conserving the Future vision.

The final recommendations incorporate extensive suggestions from the public, NGOs, state wildlife agencies, and employees of the Fish and Wildlife Service. Implementation is expected to be largely complete in about five years.

Learn more about this process and see previous drafts of the vision document.


Cover of the Implementation Plan for Conserving the Future.

Cover of the Implementation Plan for Conserving the Future.

To implement the new vision, nine Implementation Teams of Service employees have been created in the areas of strategic growth; urban wildlife refuge initiative; leadership; planning; scientific excellence; community partnerships; hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation; and interpretation and education. Each team is empowered to reach out to other Service employees, Friends organizations, partners, and subject matter experts. The teams will develop the policies and actions needed to make the vision a reality.

Download a copy of the Implementation Plan for Conserving the Future. The Implementation Plan includes an overview of the implementation approach, description of Implementation Team operations, a timeline for implementation, and guidance on communications and progress reporting.

Get Involved, Stay Informed

Here are ways to get involved and stay informed as the implementation of the Conserving the Future vision moves forward:


You can contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff coordinating implementation at a new email address: conservingthefuture [at] fws [dot] gov.