National Wildlife Refuge System

Follow the Pelican Ride March 2 – 16

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge celebrates its 110th birthday this year.
Credit: 1Sock/Flickr Creative Commons
Mike Beck begins his Pelican Ride near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 2.
Credit: Pelican Island Preservation Society

On March 14, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed an executive order establishing Pelican Island as the first federal bird reservation – the forerunner of the National Wildlife Refuge System. 

Bicyclist Mike Beck is celebrating the 110th birthday of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, FL, with a 14-day Awareness Ride, beginning March 2 in Washington, D.C., with plans to ride into Sebastian Riverview Park near the refuge in time for a Wildlife Festival on March 16. 

Cyclists are encouraged to join Beck for any leg of the journey as he builds awareness of Pelican Island Refuge and the Refuge System. For more details, click here.  The ride is being organized by the refuge Friends group, the Pelican Island Preservation Society.

The refuge mission still involves protecting the historic rookery, as well as enhancing and restoring marsh and lagoon habitat for migratory birds.  Pelican Island is a National Historic Landmark, National Wilderness Area, Wetland of International Importance and State Aquatic Reserve.

The brown pelican feeds by diving into the water
Credit: Steve Hillebrand
The boardwalk at Pelican Island Refuge contains an engraved plank for each of the 561 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Credit: USFWS

More than 30 species of birds use Pelican Island as a rookery, roost, feeding ground or loafing area. Sixteen species nest on the island, including egrets, herons, ibis, oyster catchers and, of course, the brown pelican.    Local boat, kayak and canoe tour vendors offer rentals and trips to view Pelican Island wildlife. Fishing is permitted in the open waters of the refuge.

Last updated: March 8, 2013