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Located west of Marion, Illinois, on the northern edge of the Ozark foothills, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is one of the largest refuges in the Great Lakes/Big Rivers Region. Established in 1947, the 43,890-acre Refuge includes three man-made lakes totaling 8,700 surface acres. The Refuge landscape also includes hardwood and pine forests, croplands, grasslands, wetlands, rolling hills, and rugged terrain with slopes of 24 percent. The 4,050-acre Crab Orchard Wilderness, the first wilderness area designated in the State of Illinois, is within the Refuge is unique in the National Wildlife Refuge System in having an industrial program that the Refuge hosts an estimated 1.2 million visitors annually, and its recreation programs contribute $25 million to the local tourism economy. Public use opportunities at the Refuge include an auto tour route, hiking trails, hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education and interpretation, boating, swimming, camping, and picnicking.

Generates $40 million annually to the local economy. Crab Orchard Refuge is also the only National Wildlife Refuge to have resident youth camps, such as those operated by Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and several churches.

Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge has four primary purposes:

Wildlife Conservation: The Refuge exists to protect, enhance, and manage natural resources and the Refuge landscape through an ecosystem approach that sustains optimum populations of migratory waterfowl, native fish and wildlife species, and threatened and endangered wildlife.

Agriculture: The Refuge seeks to provide opportunities for and encourage agricultural uses that help attain wildlife conservation goals, benefit the local economy, and are compatible with other Refuge purposes.

Industry: The Refuge manages an industrial complex fully utilized by compatible tenants that conform to prescribed safety, health, enviromental, and maintenance standards.

Recreation: The Refuge provides safe and equitable public use programs and facilities so that visitors have a wholesome, enjoyable recreational experience and gain an appreciation for fish and wildlife resources, natural and cultural history, outdoor ethics, and enviromental awareness.

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