WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced a draft vision plan to guide the growth and management of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, the plan articulates a 10-year vision for the Refuge System, an Interior Department release said Thursday.
The document, titled "Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and the Next Generation," sets forth nearly 100 draft recommendations to protect and improve the U.S. system of public lands and water set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants.
There are 553 national wildlife refuges -- at least one in every state and U.S. territory -- with more than 150 million acres of land and water intended to conserve wildlife habitat for hundreds of animal and plant species.
Included in the refuges are more than 20 million acres of designated wilderness.
"The National Wildlife Refuge System is one of the crown jewels of our conservation efforts and we must ensure that the system has the tools and vision to meet the challenges of tomorrow," Salazar said.
"I encourage all Americans to participate in the Conserving the Future process and to voice their bold ideas about the future priorities and management of our national wildlife refuges," he said.
Americaswildlife.org has been set up to gather public input, comments and ideas, the Interior Department said.
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