Presquile National Wildlife Refuge was officially established in 1953 “for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds.” It is an important stopover site to migratory birds as they travel up and down the Atlantic Flyway. In addition, the 1,329 acre island refuge provides protected breeding habitat for State-listed threatened and endangered species, as well as many neo-tropical migrating bird species. Hundreds of native plant and animal species thrive in the isolated wetlands, forests, and grasslands.
The refuge may be visited, but only with advanced reservations. To learn more, check out Plan Your Visit.
The refuge is encompassed in a number of areas designating special conservation status:
Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance
The refuge was listed based on its rich diversity of estuarine habitats and associated fish and wildlife.
Lower James River Important Bird Area
This 118,000 acre corridor highlights the habitat value to an unusually large number of avian species. The oligohaline (low salinity brackish) waters coupled with mature forest shorelines offer fish-eating bird populations (including eagles, osprey, herons, cormorants) enhanced environmental conditions.
Anadromous Fish Use Area
Seven anadromous fish species occur in the James River next to Presquile NWR: alewife, American shad, Atlantic Sturgeon, striped bass, blueback herring, yellow perch, and hickory shad.
Other designated areas include: Bald Eagle Concentration Area and the National Park Service’s Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail James River Oxbow Focus Area.
Administrative Office/Eastern Virginia Rivers NWRC Sub-Office