41 FR 9166, Mar. 3, 1976, unless otherwise noted.
(a) The regulations in this subchapter govern general administration of units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, public notice of changes in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policy regarding Refuge System units, issuance of permits required on Refuge System units and other administrative aspects involving the management of various units of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The regulations in this subchapter apply to areas of land and water held by the United States in fee title and to property interests in such land and water in less than fee, including but not limited to easements. For areas held in less than fee, the regulations in this subchapter apply only to the extent that the property interest held by the United States may be affected. The regulations in this subchapter also apply to and govern those areas of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal over which management responsibility has been transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Act of 1992 (Pub. L. 102-402, 106 Stat. 1961), before their establishment as a refuge and inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
(b) All national wildlife refuges are maintained for the primary purpose of developing a national program of wildlife and ecological conservation and rehabilitation. These refuges are established for the restoration, preservation, development and management of wildlife and wildlands habitat; for the protection and preservation of endangered or threatened species and their habitat; and for the management of wildlife and wildlands to obtain the maximum benefits from these resources.
(a) As used in the rules and regulations in this subchapter:
Authorized official means any Federal, State or local official empowered to enforce provisions of this subchapter C.
Big game means large game animals, including moose, elk, caribou, reindeer, musk ox, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, pronghorn, bear, and peccary, or such species as the separate States may so classify within their boundaries.
Compatibility determination means a written determination signed and dated by the Refuge Manager and Regional Chief, signifying that a proposed or existing use of a national wildlife refuge is a compatible use or is not a compatible use. The Director makes this delegation through the Regional Director.
Compatible use means a proposed or existing wildlife-dependent recreational use or any other use of a national wildlife refuge that, based on sound professional judgment, will not materially interfere with or detract from the fulfillment of the National Wildlife Refuge System mission or the purpose(s) of the national wildlife refuge.
Comprehensive conservation plan means a document that describes the desired future conditions of a refuge or planning unit and provides long-range guidance and management direction to achieve the purposes of the refuge; helps fulfill the mission of the Refuge System; maintains and, where appropriate, restores the ecological integrity of each refuge and the Refuge System; helps achieve the goals of the National Wilderness Preservation System; and meets other mandates.
Conservation, and Management mean to sustain and, where appropriate, restore and enhance, healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants utilizing, in accordance with applicable Federal and State laws, methods and procedures associated with modern scientific resource programs. Such methods and procedures include, consistent with the provisions of the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), protection, research, census, law enforcement, habitat management, propagation, live trapping and transplantation, and regulated taking.
Coordination area means a wildlife management area made available to a State by cooperative agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a State agency having control over wildlife resources pursuant to section 4 of the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 664 or by long-term leases or agreements pursuant to title III of the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act (7 U.S.C. 1010 et seq.). The States manage coordination areas but they are part of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The compatibility standard does not apply to coordination areas.
Director means the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the authorized representative of such official.
Easement means a less than fee interest in land or water acquired and administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the purpose of maintaining fish and wildlife habitat.
Fish, Wildlife, and Fish and wildlife mean any member of the animal kingdom in a wild, unconfined state, whether alive or dead, including a part, product, egg, or offspring of the member.
Migratory bird means and refers to those species of birds listed under § 10.13 of this chapter.
National wildlife refuge, and Refuge mean a designated area of land, water, or an interest in land or water located within the National Wildlife Refuge System but does not include coordination areas.
National Wildlife Refuge System, and System mean all lands, waters, and interests therein administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as wildlife refuges, wildlife ranges, wildlife management areas, waterfowl production areas, coordination areas, and other areas for the protection and conservation of fish and wildlife including those that are threatened with extinction as determined in writing by the Director or so directed by Presidential or Secretarial order. The determination by the Director may not be delegated.
National Wildlife Refuge System mission, and System mission mean to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.
Nontoxic shot means steel shot or other shot approved pursuant to 50 CFR 20.134.
Plant means any member of the plant kingdom in a wild, unconfined state, including any plant community, seed, root, or other part of a plant.
Purpose(s) of the refuge means the purposes specified in or derived from the law, proclamation, executive order, agreement, public land order, donation document, or administrative memorandum establishing, authorizing, or expanding a national wildlife refuge, national wildlife refuge unit, or national wildlife refuge subunit. For refuges that encompass Congressionally designated wilderness, the purposes of the Wilderness Act are additional purposes of the wilderness portion of the refuge.
Refuge management activity means an activity conducted by the Service or a Service-authorized agent to fulfill one or more purposes of the national wildlife refuge, or the National Wildlife Refuge System mission. Service-authorized agents include contractors, cooperating agencies, cooperating associations, refuge support groups, and volunteers.
Refuge management economic activity means a refuge management activity on a national wildlife refuge which results in generation of a commodity which is or can be sold for income or revenue or traded for goods or services. Examples include: Farming, grazing, haying, timber harvesting, and trapping.
Regional Chief means the official in charge of the National Wildlife Refuge System within a Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the authorized representative of such official.
Refuge Manager means the official directly in charge of a national wildlife refuge or the authorized representative of such official. In the case of a national wildlife refuge complex, this refers to the official directly in charge of the complex.
Refuge use, and Use of a refuge mean a recreational use (including refuge actions associated with a recreational use or other general public use), refuge management economic activity, or other use of a national wildlife refuge by the public or other non-National Wildlife Refuge System entity.
Regional Director means the official in charge of a Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the authorized representative of such official.
Secretary means the Secretary of the Interior or the authorized representative of such official.
Service, We, and Us mean the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.
Sound professional judgment means a finding, determination, or decision that is consistent with principles of sound fish and wildlife management and administration, available science and resources, and adherence to the requirements of the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), and other applicable laws. Included in this finding, determination, or decision is a refuge manager's field experience and knowledge of the particular refuge's resources.
State, and United States mean one or more of the States of the United States, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the territories and possessions of the United States.
Waterfowl production area means any wetland or pothole area acquired pursuant to section 4(c) of the amended Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act (72 Stat. 487; 16 U.S.C. 718d(c)), owned or controlled by the United States and administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Wildlife-dependent recreational use, and Wildlife-dependent recreation mean a use of a national wildlife refuge involving hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, or environmental education and interpretation. The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), specifies that these are the six priority general public uses of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Wildlife management area means a general term used in describing a variety of areas that are managed for wildlife purposes which may be included in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
You means the public.
Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to relieve a person from any other applicable requirements imposed by a local ordinance or by a statute or regulation of any State or of the United States.
(a) Except as provided below, all areas included in the National Wildlife Refuge System are closed to public access until and unless we open the area for a use or uses in accordance with the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee), the Refuge Recreation Act of 1962 (16 U.S.C. 460k-460k-4) and this subchapter C. See 50 CFR 36 for details on use and access restrictions, and the public participation and closure process established for Alaska national wildlife refuges. We may open an area by regulation, individual permit, or public notice, in accordance with § 25.31 of this subchapter.
(b) We may open a national wildlife refuge for any refuge use, or expand, renew, or extend an existing refuge use only after the Refuge Manager determines that it is a compatible use and not inconsistent with any applicable law. Lands subject to the patent restrictions imposed by Section 22(g) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act are subject to the compatibility requirements of Parts 25 and 26 of 50 CFR except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
(1) We will complete compatibility determinations for uses of Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act 22(g) lands in compliance with the following requirements:
(i) Refuge managers will work with 22(g) landowners in implementation of these regulations. The landowners should contact the Refuge Manager in advance of initiating a use and request a compatibility determination. After a compatibility determination is requested, refuge managers have no longer than ninety (90) days to complete the compatibility determination and notify the landowner of the finding by providing a copy of the compatibility determination or to inform the landowner of the specific reasons for delay. If a refuge manager believes that a finding of not compatible is likely, the Refuge Manager will notify the landowner prior to rendering a decision to encourage dialog on how the proposed use might be modified to be compatible.
(ii) Refuge managers will allow all uses proposed by 22(g) landowners when the Refuge Manager determines the use to be compatible with refuge purposes.
(iii) Compatibility determinations will include only evaluations of how the proposed use would affect the ability of the refuge to meet its mandated purposes. The National Wildlife Refuge System mission will not be considered in the evaluation. Refuge purposes will include both pre-ANILCA purposes and those established by ANILCA, so long as they do not conflict. If conflicts arise, ANILCA purposes will take precedence.
(iv) A determination that a use is not compatible may be appealed by the landowner to the Regional Director. The appeal must be submitted in writing within forty-five (45) days of receipt of the determination. The appeals process provided for in 50 CFR 36.41(i) (3) through (5) will apply.
(v) Compatibility determinations for proposed uses of 22(g) lands will only evaluate the effects of the use on the adjacent refuge lands, and the ability of that refuge to achieve its purposes, not on the effects of the proposed use to the 22(g) lands.
(vi) Compatibility determinations for 22(g) lands that a use is compatible are not subject to re-evaluation unless the use changes significantly, significant new information is made available that could affect the compatibility determination, or if requested by the landowner.
(vii) Refuge comprehensive conservation plans will not include 22(g) lands, and compatibility determinations affecting such lands will not to be automatically re-evaluated when the plans are routinely updated.
(viii) Refuge special use permits will not be required for compatible uses of 22(g) lands. Special conditions necessary to ensure a proposed use is compatible may be included in the compatibility determination and must be complied with for the use to be considered compatible.
(c) The Refuge Manager may temporarily allow or initiate any refuge use without making a compatibility determination if necessary to protect the health and safety of the public or any fish or wildlife population.
(d) When we add lands to the National Wildlife Refuge System, the Refuge Manager will identify, prior to acquisition, withdrawal, transfer, reclassification, or donation of those lands, existing wildlife-dependent recreational public uses (if any) determined to be compatible that we will permit to continue on an interim basis, pending completion of the comprehensive conservation plan for the national wildlife refuge. We will make these compatibility determinations in accordance with procedures in § 26.41 of this subchapter.
(e) In the event of a threat or emergency endangering the health and safety of the public or property or to protect the resources of the area, the Refuge Manager may close or curtail refuge uses of all or any part of an opened area to public access and use in accordance with the provisions in § 25.31, without advance notice. See 50 CFR 36.42 for procedures on closing Alaska national wildlife refuges.
(f) We will re-evaluate compatibility determinations for existing wildlife-dependent recreational uses when conditions under which the use is permitted change significantly, or if there is significant new information regarding the effects of the use, or concurrently with the preparation or revision of a comprehensive conservation plan, or at least every 15 years, whichever is earlier. In addition, a refuge manager always may re-evaluate the compatibility of a use at any time.
(g) Except for uses specifically authorized for a period longer than 10 years (such as right-of-ways), we will re-evaluate compatibility determinations for all existing uses other than wildlife-dependent recreational uses when conditions under which the use is permitted change significantly, or if there is significant new information regarding the effects of the use, or at least every 10 years, whichever is earlier. In addition, a refuge manager always may re-evaluate the compatibility of a use at any time.
(h) For uses in existence on November 17, 2000 that were specifically authorized for a period longer than 10 years (such as right-of-ways), our compatibility re-evaluation will examine compliance with the terms and conditions of the authorization, not the authorization itself. We will frequently monitor and review the activity to ensure that the permittee carries out all permit terms and conditions. However, the Service will request modifications to the terms and conditions of these permits from the permittee if the Service determines that such changes are necessary to ensure that the use remains compatible. After November 17, 2000 no uses will be permitted or re-authorized, for a period longer than 10 years, unless the terms and conditions for such long-term permits specifically allows for modifications to the terms and conditions, if necessary to ensure compatibility. We will make a new compatibility determination prior to extending or renewing such long-term uses at the expiration of the authorization. When we prepare a compatibility determination for re-authorization of an existing right-of-way, we will base our analysis on the existing conditions with the use in place, not from a pre-use perspective.
(i) When we re-evaluate a use for compatibility, we will take a fresh look at the use and prepare a new compatibility determination following the procedure outlined in 50 CFR 26.41.
[65 FR 62481, Oct. 18, 2000]
Lost articles or money found on a national wildlife refuge are to be immediately turned in to the nearest refuge office.
The Office of Management and Budget has approved the information collection requirements contained in subchapter C, parts 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 36 under 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. and assigned the following control numbers: 1018-0102 for National Wildlife Refuge Special Use Permit Applications and Reports; 1018-0140 for Hunting and Fishing Application Forms and Activity Reports for National Wildlife Refuges; and 1018-0153 for National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Check-In Permit and Use Report. We collect information to assist us in administering our programs in accordance with statutory authorities that require that recreational or other uses be compatible with the primary purposes for which the areas were established. Send comments on any aspect of these forms or the information collection requirements to the Information Collection Clearance Officer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1849 C Street NW., MS 2042-PDM, Washington, DC 20240.
[79 FR 14822, Mar. 17, 2014]
Whenever a particular public access, use or recreational activity of any type whatsoever, not otherwise expressly permitted under this subchapter, is permitted on a national wildlife refuge or where public access, use, or recreational or other activities previously permitted are curtailed, the public may be notified by any of the following methods, all of which supplement this subchapter C:
(a) Official signs posted conspicuously at appropriate intervals and locations;
(b) Special regulations issued under the provisions of § 26.33 of this subchapter C.
(c) Maps available in the office of the refuge manager, regional director, or area director, or
(d) Other appropriate methods which will give the public actual or constructive notice of the permitted or curtailed public access, use, or recreational activity.
We authorize the refuge manager of the facility where an activity is to take place to issue permits required by this subchapter C unless the regulations in this subchapter C require the applicant to obtain the applicable permit from the Director or Secretary. In those situations, the refuge manager will so inform the applicant, giving the applicant all necessary information as to how and where to apply.
[67 FR 58942, Sept. 18, 2002]
Any person on a national wildlife refuge shall upon request by any authorized official exhibit the required Federal or State permit or license authorizing their presence and activity on the area and shall furnish such other information for identification purposes as may be requested.
The refuge manager may terminate or revoke a permit at any time for noncompliance with the terms of the permit or of the regulations in this subchapter C; for nonuse; for violation of any law, regulation, or order applicable to the refuge; or to protect public health or safety or the resources of a national wildlife refuge.
[67 FR 58943, Sept. 18, 2002]
(a) The provisions of this subsection shall govern the regulation of activities that affect easement interests acquired by the United States. All other provisions of subchapter C shall apply to activities within such easement areas, but only to the extent that those provisions are directly or indirectly related to the protection of those easement interests expressly acquired by the United States which are specified in the easement agreement itself, and are not inconsistent with the provisions of this subsection.
(b) We require permits for use of easement areas administered by us where proposed activities may affect the property interest acquired by the United States. Applications for permits will be submitted in writing to the Regional Director or a designee. We may grant special use permits to owners of servient estates, or to third parties with the owner's agreement, by the Regional Director or a designee, upon written determination that such permitted use is compatible. If we ultimately determine that the requested use will not affect the United States' interest, the Regional Director will issue a letter of non-objection.
(c) In instances where the third applicant is a governmental entity which has acquired a partial interest in the servient estate by subsequent condemnation, a special use permit may be granted to the governmental entity without the servient estate owner's agreement if the regional director or his or her designee determines:
(1) The permitted use is compatible; and
(2) The permitted use is consistent with the partial property interests obtained through condemnation.
(d) Regulations pertaining to rights-of-way in easement areas are contained in 50 CFR part 29.21.
(a) Who may appeal. Any person who is adversely affected by a refuge manager's decision or order relating to the person's permit granted by the Service, or application for permit, within the National Wildlife Refuge System. This section does not apply to permits or applications for rights-of-way. See § 29.22 for the hearing and appeals procedure on rights-of-way.
(b) Preliminary procedure. Prior to making any adverse decision or order on a permit or application for permit, the refuge manager shall notify the permittee or applicant orally or in writing of the proposed action and its effective date. The permittee or applicant shall have twenty (20) days after notification in which to present to the refuge manager, orally or in writing, a statement in opposition to the proposed action or date. The permittee or applicant shall be notified in writing within twenty (20) days after receipt of the statement in opposition, of the refuge manager's final decision or order.
(c) Appeals, how taken. If the refuge manager still intends to proceed with the proposed action, the permittee or applicant shall have thirty (30) days from the postmarked date of the refuge manager's final decision or order in which to file a written appeal to the appropriate area manager. The appellant (permittee or applicant) shall be notified in writing within thirty (30) days from the postmarked date of the appeal of the area manager's decision. The appellant shall have (30) days from the postmarked date of the area manager's decision to further appeal in writing to the appropriate regional director.
(d) Decision of regional director. The regional director's decision shall be final and issued in writing to the appellant within thirty (30) days from the postmarked date of the appeal.
(e) Oral presentation. The appellant shall be provided an opportunity for oral presentation before the area manager or the regional director within the respective thirty (30) day appeal periods.
(f) Addresses. The addresses of the appropriate officials to whom appeals may be taken shall be furnished in each decision or order.
(g) Suspension pending appeal. Compliance with any decision or order of a refuge manager shall not be suspended by reason of an appeal having been taken unless such suspension is authorized in writing by the area manager or regional director (depending upon the official before whom the appeal is pending), and then only upon a determination by these officials that such suspension will not be detrimental to the interests of the United States or upon submission and acceptance of a bond deemed adequate to indemnify the United States from loss or damage.
52 FR 29860, Aug. 12, 1987, unless otherwise noted.
Reasonable charges and fees may be established for public recreational use of and, except in Alaska, entrance onto national wildlife refuges. Regulations regarding recreational use fees are contained in 36 CFR part 71. Regulations regarding entrance fees are contained in this subpart E.
To be designated as an “Entrance Fee Area”, a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System must be found to demonstrate that:
(a) The level of visitation for recreational purposes is high enough to justify the collection of fees for admission permits for economic reasons;
(b) There is a practical mechanism in existence for implementing and operating a system of collecting fees for admission permits; and
(c) Imposition of a fee for admission permits is not likely to result in undue economic hardship for a significant number of visitors to the unit.
Entrance fees established for single visit permits at a designated Entrance Fee Area shall consider the following criteria with regard to the local area within which the refuge is located:
(a) The direct and indirect cost to the Government.
(b) The benefits to the permit holder.
(c) The public policy or interest served.
(d) The comparable fees charged by non-Federal public agencies.
(e) The economic and administrative feasibility of fee collection.
The public shall be notified that an entrance fee is charged through refuge publications and posted designation signs in accordance with § 25.31 of this part.
(a) Unless otherwise provided, persons entering an Entrance Fee Area shall obtain and be in possession of a valid admission permit.
(b) The following five types of permits allowing entrance onto an Entrance Fee Area will be available for issue or purchase at such area and, except for refuge-specific permits, at Fish and Wildlife Service Regional and Washington, DC Offices, and at other locations as may be designated.
(1) Single visit permit with a charge not to exceed $3 per person or $7.50 per noncommercial vehicle (single visit can be defined as 1-15 days, dependent upon a determination of the period of time reasonably and ordinarily necessary for such a visit at a particular refuge unit).
(2) Golden Eagle Passport.
(3) Golden Age Passport.
(4) Golden Access Passport.
(5) Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation (Duck) Stamp. To be valid, the Duck Stamp must be current and bear the signature of the holder on the front.
Permits issued or used for entrance onto Entrance Fee Areas are nontransferable. Failure to pay the entrance fee, to display upon request of an authorized official a valid permit, or to comply with other entrance fee provisions, rules or regulations, will be subject to the penalties prescribed in 50 CFR 28.31.
At Entrance Fee Areas:
(a) Special admission permits for uses, such as group activities, may be issued.
(b) No entrance fee shall be charged for persons under 16 years of age.
(c) No entrance fee shall be charged for travel by private noncommercial vehicle over any road or highway established as part of the National Federal Aid System (defined in 23 U.S.C. 101), which is commonly used by the public as a means of travel between two places which are outside the Entrance Fee Area.
(d) No entrance fee shall be charged for travel by private noncommercial vehicle over any road or highway to any land in which such person has a property interest if such land is within any Entrance Fee Area.
(e) Persons accompanying the holder of a valid single visit permit, Federal Duck Stamp or Golden Eagle, Age, or Access Passport in a single, private, noncommercial vehicle shall be entitled to general entrance.
(f) Where entry is by any means other than single, private, noncommercial vehicle, the spouse, children, or parents accompanying the holder of a valid single visit permit, Federal Duck Stamp or Golden Eagle, Age, or Access Passport shall be entitled to general entrance.
Public use facilities may be operated by concessionaires or cooperators under appropriate contact or legal agreement on national wildlife refuges where there is a demonstrated justified need for services or facilities including, but not limited to, boat rentals, swimming facilities, conducted tours of special natural attractions, shelters, tables, trailer lots, food, lodging, and related service.
Persons using national wildlife refuges shall comply with the safety requirements which are established under the provisions of this subchapter C for each individual refuge and with any safety provisions which may be included in leases, agreements, or use permits.
Accidents involving damage to property, injury to the public or injury to wildlife that occur within the boundaries of any national wildlife refuge are to be reported as soon as possible, but in no event later than 24 hours after the accident, by the persons involved, to the refuge manager or other personnel on duty at the national wildlife refuge headquarters. This report does not relieve persons from the responsibility of making any other accident reports which may be required.