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Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air & Rare Plants

Eyes on Wildlife

Eyes on Wildlife, the Forest Service's Watchable Wildlife Program, is a recreation, education, and conservation program that was developed by the USDA Forest Service in 1988 as a part of the Wildlife, Fish, and Rare Plant Program.

You can find locations for viewing wildlife, plants and fish through our NatureWatch "Viewing Sites" website at

Program goals and objectives

Eyes on Wildlife facilitates habitat management and improvements for wildlife viewing on National Forests and Grasslands. The purpose of the program is to: provide enhanced opportunities for all people to experience wildlife; promote learning about forest animals and plants and their habitat requirements; and develop broad public support of conservation that maintains healthy ecosystems for all plant and animal species.

Program sponsors and partners

USDA Forest Service, nine Federal agencies, a state coalition, and three conservation groups are signed onto a formal national Watchable Wildlife Memorandum of Understanding.

Target audience

The Eyes on Wildlife program is for children of all ages, school children K-6th, and for the adult population of recreationists, wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, hikers, and wildlife viewers.

Audience reached (size, demographics)

Wildlife viewing is a rapidly growing activity among Americans. The demand for information, facilities, and services to accommodate wildlife viewing activities and the need for associated educational and conservation programs is significant.

The 1991 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation conducted by the US. Fish and Wildlife Service, showed that 74% of the US. population 16 and over participated in some form of viewing, feeding, or photography as a recreational activity in 1991, compared to 55% in 1980. By the year 2040 - current levels of use (33 million viewing days on Forest Service lands alone) are predicted to increase by 150%.

In a survey of Minnesota corporations, 78% of the respondents (66% of whom were CEOs) said they would contribute to the Minnesota Endangered Resources Partnership. Respondents listed "creation of educational programs" as one of four top projects they would like to support with their contributions.

Program history and trends

Eyes on Wildlife was developed in 1988 by the Denver Regional Office staff of the Forest service's Rocky Mountain Region. Identified as one of the Forest Service's "Get Wild!" emphasis areas in 1988, the Eyes on Wildlife program first received Congressional funding in FY 1990. Involvement and commitment in this program area has steadily grown through time.

Major accomplishments

  • Signing a MOU between the Forest Service and Defenders of Wildlife providing a full-time coordinator position within the Forest Service responsible for helping develop state wildlife viewing guides.
  • The Forest Service investment of $0.8 million toward State Wildlife Viewing Guides leveraged another $1.7 million from other Federal, State, nonprofit, and for profit partners.
  • Developed wildlife viewing ethics brochure, poster, and video.
  • The annual national Watchable Wildlife conference, sponsored in part by the Forest Service, draws hundreds of people from federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Significant Program Studies and Evaluations:

1993: The Forest Service's National Recreation Survey and the National Survey on Recreation and the Environment.

1994: "Americans and Wildlife Diversity: Public Opinion, Attitudes, Interest and Participation in Wildlife Viewing and Wildlife Diversity Programs" By Mark Duda

Get Wild!


Celebrating Wild Flowers

Disclaimers | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Privacy Notice

Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air & Rare Plants (WFW)
Washington, D.C. Office
Author: Shelly Witt, National Continuing Education Coordinator, WFW staff
Phone: 435-881-4203
Expires: none

Photo Credits

USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C. 20090-6090
(202) 205-8333