Kern Wildlife Refuges
Welcome to the Kern National Wildlife Refuge Complex
For thousands of years, California's Central Valley has provided habitat for millions of waterfowl, shorebirds and other wetland and upland dependent species.
The southern portion of the Central Valley, known as the San Joaquin Valley, once contained numerous lakes and marshes comprising over 800,000 acres of natural wetlands, the largest freshwater marsh in the western United States.
In the mid1800s, hunters harvested the abundant wildlife of this region to supply the markets of San Francisco and the gold mining country. Over time, agricultural and urban use drained the wetlands. Damming projects in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range cut off their historical inflow, resulting in 98% of the wetlands being lost.
On November 18, 1959, Congress approved the establishment of Kern and Pixley National Wildlife Refuges to replace a portion of the lost wetlands, providing habitat for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds.
Kern and Pixley National Wildlife Refuges are two of over 540 refuges in the national Wildlife Refuge System, a network of lands set aside specifically for wildlife, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This system is a living heritage conserving wildlife and habitat for people today and generations to come.