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About the Refuge

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Located on the southern extreme of the Great Salt Lake Desert, Fish Springs has been a place of essential importance in meeting the needs of humans and wildlife over the past 10,000 years. Most critical are the life-sustaining waters that make Fish Springs a true oasis in the desert.

More About the Refuge


Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge is one of the over 550 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System - a network of lands set aside and managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service specifically for wildlife. Fish Springs NWR was established using proceeds from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps. Ninety-eight cents out of every dollar generated by the sale of Federal Duck Stamps go directly to the purchase or lease of wetlands habitat for protection in the Refuge System.

Fish Springs NWR was established in 1959 to provide habitat for migratory bird management within the Pacific Flyway. Approximately 10,000 acres of its 17,992 total acres are wetlands. Refuge waters are supplied by spring flows that arise under artesian pressure and hydrothermal convection along fracture zones in the Great Basin Carbonate Rock and Alluvial Aquifer. Refuge measurements indicate the springs discharge approximately 22,000 – 27,000 acre-feet per year, most of which is recharged from areas outside the Fish Springs Flat.

The Refuge provides managed wetland habitats for a diversity of species, with priority given to a variety of migratory birds, including wading birds, shorebirds, and waterfowl, as well as to species at risk of becoming listed as federally endangered.  You will find exciting birding opportunities at this Refuge year round. Spring and fall migrations provide peak numbers of shorebirds, waterfowl, and many land birds. During the breeding season, you can easily spot nesting colonies of black-crowned night heron, white-faced ibis, great blue heron, and snowy egret.  Winter highlights often include tundra swan, numerous ducks, raptors, and the secretive American bittern.  More than 290 bird species have been recorded on the Refuge.

Fish Springs and the area also provide a rich cultural history prior to Refuge establishment. The year round water supply at Fish Springs made it an important stopping point for the Pony Express, Central Overland Stage Route, and Lincoln Highway. Historical markers can be found along the present day Pony Express Route and within the Refuge. The Refuge’s auto tour route, open during daylight hours, allows you to observe wildlife in desert uplands, wet meadows, marshlands, and open waters. Early morning and late afternoon are ideal times to view wildlife and take pictures. Whether you are a birder, a photographer, a waterfowl hunter, a student of the natural environment or share interest in the cultural history of the area, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to visit.

Last Updated: Mar 09, 2014
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