Fee suspension extended at national wildlife refuges

The Pinta sand dunes stretch across Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona, one of many refuges across the country that remains open, although its visitor center is closed. ©USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is extending its suspension of entrance fees at national wildlife refuges through April. “Refuges are special outdoor experiences to recreate and embrace nature while social distancing and adhering to public health guidance,” the USFWS announced in a tweet last week.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt called for fee suspensions at national parks, wildlife refuges and Bureau of Land Management fee areas in mid-March to help the public cope with isolation efforts to contain COVID-19. Since then, several national parks have closed, including Yellowstone, Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Park, over concerns about park crowding and impacts on nearby communities.

Some refuges have also closed, including Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island, which recently closed due to large numbers of visitors.

The USFWS asks visitors to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, including maintaining safe distances from others.