Department of the Interior extends withdrawal on Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge


Bureau of Land Management

BLM Office:

Southeastern States

Media Contact:

Francis Piccoli

WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior today approved a Public Land Order that extends a withdrawal on 37.5 acres of public land in Florida for a 40-year term. The Public Land Order will enable the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to continue to preserve unique natural features adjacent to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The withdrawal was initially established for a 40-year term by Public Land Order (PLO) No. 5683 on September 12, 1979. It was established to extend the boundary of the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and to facilitate management between the existing refuge and adjacent privately-held lands. The land subject to PLO No. 5683, which was set to expire on September 11, 2019, continues to be used for the purpose for which the original withdrawal was established.

“Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of our nation’s great treasures and serves as a monument to Teddy Roosevelt’s conservation ethic,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “This very important action underscores the Department’s commitment to increasing outdoor recreation and conservation opportunities for all Americans.”

“We’ve worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for decades to manage these lands for the benefit of migratory birds and other wildlife, and to help countless Americans experience the hundreds of species of birds, fish and mammals Pelican Island supports,” said BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley. “We’re excited to continue this partnership for another generation and beyond.”

Today’s action extends the withdrawal which President Theodore Roosevelt established as a protected sanctuary for birds in 1903. The BLM oversees the property in close coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge. The action supports Secretarial Order 3347, Conservation Stewardship and Outdoor Recreation (March 27, 2017), which directs BLM and other Interior bureaus to preserve and expand access to outdoor recreation on public lands.

Leopoldo Miranda, Regional Director USFWS, South Atlantic-Gulf & Mississippi-Basin, celebrates the interagency coordination that enabled this extension. He said, “Our actions to protect and manage the very first National Wildlife Refuge in the nation, exemplify the value added for all Americans when we share common management objectives for the greatest good.” 

Roosevelt’s action to protect Pelican Island was the beginning of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Today, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge provides 5,400 acres of habitat for hundreds of species of birds, fish, plants, and mammals, and hosts approximately 100,000 visitors annually.  Explore this special place with the Pelican Island story map here:

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.