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To protect and observe?

When President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the first national wildlife refuge in 1903, there was little fanfare and little sense of what the future would hold. The fledgling refuge system was a unique idea with no precedent. Now 100 years strong, this simple notion of protecting land for wildlife has grown to include 538 refuges that encompass an astonishing 95 million acres -- there’s nothing else quite like it in the world.

For the centennial celebration, the Smithsonian has published an exquisitely photographed history and overview of America’s national wildlife refuge system. With broad strokes that sweep from Alaska to Florida, plus in-depth coverage of selected places, events and personalities, this book is visually gripping and well-written. While acknowledging the tumultuous balance between wildlife conservation and shifting political winds, it leaves us with a sense of hope for the next 100 years.

-- David Lukas


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