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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 25, 1996



By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in furtherance of the purposes of the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a), the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661), the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act (16 U.S.C. 668dd), the Refuge Recreation Act (16 U.S.C. 460k), the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531), the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act (16 U.S.C. 3901), the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 4401), the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321), and other pertinent statutes, and in order to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitat, it is ordered as follows:

Section 1. The Mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System ("Refuge System") is to preserve a national network of lands and waters for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, and plant resources of the United States for the benefit of present and future generations.

Sec. 2. Guiding Principles. To help ensure a bright future for its treasured national heritage, I hereby affirm the following four guiding principles for the management and general public use of the Refuge System:

       (a)  Public Use.  The Refuge System provides important 
            opportunities for compatible wildlife-dependent 
            recreational activities involving hunting, fishing, 
            wildlife observation and photography, and 
            environmental education and interpretation.
       (b)  Habitat.  Fish and wildlife will not prosper without 
            high-quality habitat, and without fish and wildlife, 
            traditional uses of refuges cannot be sustained.  The 
            Refuge System will continue to conserve and enhance 
            the quality and diversity of fish and wildlife habitat 
            within refuges.
       (c)  Partnerships.  America's sportsmen and women were 
            the first partners who insisted on protecting 
            valuable wildlife habitat within wildlife refuges.  
            Conservation partnerships with other Federal agencies, 
            State agencies, Tribes, organizations, industry, and 
            the general public can make significant contributions 
            to the growth and management of the Refuge System.
       (d)  Public Involvement.  The public should be given a 
            full and open opportunity to participate in decisions 
            regarding acquisition and management of our National 
            Wildlife Refuges.
       Sec. 3.  Directives to the Secretary of the Interior.  

To the extent consistent with existing laws and interagency agreements, the Secretary of the Interior, in carrying out his trustee and stewardship responsibilities for the Refuge System, is directed to:

       (a)  recognize compatible wildlife-dependent recreational 
            activities involving hunting, fishing, wildlife 
            observation and photography, and environmental 
            education and interpretation as priority general 
            public uses of the Refuge System through which the 
            American public can develop an appreciation for fish 
            and wildlife;
       (b)  provide expanded opportunities for these priority 
            public uses within the Refuge System when they are 
            compatible and consistent with sound principles of 
            fish and wildlife management, and are otherwise in 
            the public interest;
       (c)  ensure that such priority public uses receive enhanced 
            attention in planning and management within the Refuge 
       (d)  provide increased opportunities for families to 
            experience wildlife-dependent recreation, particularly 
            opportunities for parents and their children to safely 
            engage in traditional outdoor activities, such as 
            fishing and hunting;
       (e)  ensure that the biological integrity and environmental 
            health of the Refuge System is maintained for the 
            benefit of present and future generations of 
       (f)  continue, consistent with existing laws and 
            interagency agreements, authorized or permitted 
            uses of units of the Refuge System by other Federal 
            agencies, including those necessary to facilitate 
            military preparedness;
       (g)  plan and direct the continued growth of the 
            Refuge System in a manner that is best designed 
            to accomplish the mission of the Refuge System, to 
            contribute to the conservation of the ecosystems of 
            the United States, and to increase support for the 
            Refuge System and participation from conservation 
            partners and the public;
       (h)  ensure timely and effective cooperation and 
            collaboration with Federal agencies and State fish 
            and wildlife agencies during the course of acquiring 
            and managing National Wildlife Refuges;
       (i)  ensure appropriate public involvement opportunities 
            will be provided in conjunction with refuge planning 
            and management activities; and
       (j)  identify, prior to acquisition, existing compatible 
            wildlife-dependent uses of new refuge lands that shall 
            be permitted to continue on an interim basis pending 
            completion of comprehensive planning.
       Sec. 4.  Judicial Review.  This order does not create any 

right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any person.



March 25, 1996.

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