DOI Announces Two New Refuges During National Wildlife Refuge Week

DOI Announces Two New Refuges During National Wildlife Refuge Week

The Department of the Interior announced on October 10 the establishment of the Wyoming Toad Conservation Area and the Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee as the 569th and 570th national wildlife refuges. The announcement took place as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and partners celebrated National Wildlife Refuge Week that builds visibility for the important role that the National Wildlife Refuge System plays in providing vital habitat for wildlife species and offering outdoor recreation access to the public.

“Nature is essential to the health, well-being, and prosperity of every family and every community in America. National wildlife refuges help connect Americans to a diverse array of public lands, while also serving as a crucial means of protecting wildlife and conserving habitat,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Through locally led collaborative conservation, these two special landscapes are now protected as part of our shared natural heritage and accessible to everyone.”

The Wyoming Toad Conservation Area is the result of years of partner-driven work to conserve the Wyoming Toad, including with the City of Laramie, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and the Laramie Rivers Conservation District. In January 2017, the Service completed a land protection plan, a collaborative process that authorized the purchase of conservation easements and fee title lands from willing sellers in the area. The Service purchased 1,078 acres of land known as Bath Ranch from The Conservation Fund to officially establish the Wyoming Toad Conservation Area.

Tennessee’s newest national wildlife refuge will serve as a critical link between nearby state and nonprofit conservation lands in Tennessee and Alabama that help conserve the Paint Rock River watershed and one of the largest contiguous tracts of hardwoods remaining in eastern North America. The Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge is part of a unique ecosystem with a high diversity of aquatic, terrestrial, and karst habitats that support threatened and endangered species including gray bats, Indiana bats, Tennessee cave salamanders and Alabama cave shrimp.

October 16, 2023