On October 10th, 2023, the Department of the Interior’s Secretary, Deb Haaland, gave the Toad Conservation Area in Wyoming and the Paint Rock River National Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee new acknowledgments under the National Wildlife Refuge System. With these two new additions, Wyoming’s and Tennessee’s NWRs give a grand total of 570 national wildlife refuges nationwide. These and other refuges continuously support wildlife conservation, observation, and human recreation activities such as fishing, hunting, hiking, and much more.
The Toad Conservation Area, located in the Laramie Plains of the Wyoming Basin, helps support one of the most endangered amphibians in North America: the Wyoming toad. Along with the Wyoming Toad, the Wyoming Toad Conservation Area also protects white-tailed prairie dogs, pronghorns, and migratory birds.
Bordering Tennessee and Alabama, the Paint Rock River watershed conserves numerous species of plants and animals above and underground. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) describes the Paint Rock River watershed’s environment as a combination of terrestrial, aquatic, and karst. With this one-of-a-kind environment type, this refuge harbors many threatened and endangered species, such as gray bats, Indiana bats, Tennessee cave salamanders, and Alabama cave shrimp. USFWS has recorded 100 types of fish and 50 types of freshwater mussels within the Paint Rock River watershed, in addition to these species that inhabit the area underneath the Earth’s surface.