The National Wildlife Refuge System, established in 1903 and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), is the largest system of lands in the world dedicated to the conservation of wildlife. There are over 547 refuges nationwide, encompassing 96.5 million acres. The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is 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." Part of achieving this mission is the goal "to foster understanding and instill appreciation of fish, wildlife, and plants, and their conservation, by providing the public with safe, high-quality, and compatible wildlife-dependent public use" (Director's Order #132-601 FW1). About 98 percent of the system is open to the public, attracting nearly 40 million visitors annually. More than 25 million people per year visit refuges to observe and photograph wildlife, 8 million to hunt and fish and more than half a million to participate in educational and interpretation programs (Uniack, 1999).