On February 1, 1969, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created the first national wildlife refuge specifically established for the then endangered bald eagle. This 2,227 acre refuge encompasses approximately 2,000 acres of mature hardwood forest, the largest freshwater marsh in northern Virginia, and nearly six miles of shoreline. Because of its unique blend of habitat, Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge supports a diverse mixture of wildlife throughout the year. Whatever your reason for coming, the refuge is a place to learn about nature and the history of man’s use of the land on the Neck. Our desire for each visitor is that they connect with nature in a meaningful way.
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In the early 1960’s a developer sought out land on Mason Neck to build a planned community and airport. Elizabeth Spears Hartwell, a local resident, who valued the pristine nature of the peninsula, organized an effort to stop this development. She recognized the potential of the Mason Neck peninsula as a safe haven for the endangered bald eagles along the Potomac River.