National Wildlife Refuge System

Wetlands of International Importance


The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

The convention has been signed by 160 countries, with more than 2,000 designated wetland sites, including more than 30 in the United States.

Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance on National Wildlife Refuges

Name of Ramsar Site State Refuge Lands in the Site Significance
Upper Mississippi Floodplain Wetlands Minnesota,
Wisconsin,
Iowa,Illinois
Upper Mississippi River Natl Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Trempealeau Natl Wildlife Refuge One of the most important corridors of fish
and wildlife habitat in central U.S.;
supports large populations of more than
100 native fish species
Humbug Marsh Michigan Detroit River Intl Wildlife Refuge Last stretch of natural shoreline on the U.S.
mainland connecting lower and upper Great Lakes
Roswell Artesian Wetlands New Mexico Bitter Lake Natl Wildlife Refuge  Springs, seeps and sinkhole lakes along
the Pecos River; supports diverse plants
and animals including several endemic
species
Palmyra Atoll Natl Wildlife Refuge Hawaii Palmyra Atoll Refuge  Coral reefs, permanent shallow marine
waters, intertidal forested wetlands.
Important feeding and nesting site for seabirds. Third largest colony of red-footed
booby in the world.
Catahoula Lake Louisiana Catahoula Natl Wildlife Refuge Unique example of a lower Mississippi
wetland community; the most important
inland wetland for waterbirds and shorebirds
in Louisiana.
Cache River - Cypress Creek Wetlands Arkansas Cache River and Cypress Creek Natl
Wildlife Refuges
Convergence of four prominent physiographic
provinces, unusually varied species in close
proximity,major importance to waterfowl,
diverse neotropical migrant birds.
Sand Lake Natl Wildlife Refuge South Dakota Sand Lake Natl Wildlife Refuge Large freshwater cattail marsh, critical
nesting/staging habitat for many bird
species, hosts almost 50% of North
America's population and world's largest
nesting colony of Larus pipixcan.
Izembek Lagoon Natl Wildlife Refuge Alaska Izembek Natl Wildlife Refuge Coastal lagoons, marshes, tundra plain; critically impt for migratory birds - staging for almost entire world population of black brant geese
Edwin B. Forsythe Natl Wildlife Refuge New Jersey Edwin B. Forsythe Natl Wildlife Refuge Designated wilderness area; rich in
invertebrates. Saltmarshes and mudflats
important for wintering ducks, geese, swans.
Okefenokee Natl Wildlife Refuge Georgia Okefenokee Natl Wildlife Refuge Designated wilderness area; swamp forest;
second largest wetland complext in the US.
Extensive drainage basin on the divide
between Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
Public education and recreation.
Ash Meadows Natl Wildlife Refuge Nevada Ash Meadows Natl Wildlife Refuge Unique ecosystem (desert oasis). Springs supply a tributary of Amargosa River. Great biological endemism - 4 speciesof endangered endemic fish and endemic acquatic insect.
Cache River-Lower White Rivers Arkansas Cache River Natl Wildlife Refuge Largest continuous expanse of bottomland hardwoods in Lower Mississippi Valley; wintering waterbirds, game and fur-bearing mammals. Important for recreation, research, education.
Horicon Marsh Wisconsin Horicon Natl Wildlife Refuge One of largest intact freshwater marshes in U.S. Staging area for 80% of Mississippi flyway population of Canada geese; three ecological zones (marsh, pothole wetlands, shallow lakes)
Chesapeake Bay Estuarine Complex Virginia/Maryland Eastern Neck, Blackwater, Martin, Mason
Neck, Presquile Natl Wildlife Refuges
Outstanding example of large estuarine
complex. Public education. Fisheries
values. Waterfowl use and diversity.
Pelican Island Natl Wildlife Refuge Florida Pelican Island Natl Wildlife Refuge Designated wilderness. National Historic Landmark. Climate overlap between temperate and tropical, supporting plants and animals from both zones. Mix of salt and fresh water - high biological diversity. Lagoonal waters of Indian River impt as nursery for juvenile endangered marine turtles.
Delaware Bay Estuary System Delaware Bombay Hook, Prime Hook, Supawna
Meadows Natl Wildlife Refuges
Ecological transition zone with more than 70 separate protected wetland areas of varying salinity. Stging area for more than 90% N. American population of several migratory bird species
Quivira Natl Wildlife Refuge Kansas Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Rare inland salt marsh mixed with grass prairie and agricultural fields. Critical nesting, migrating, wintering habitat for more than 311 bird species. Many endangered and threatened species, including peregrine falcon, whooping crane, interior least tern and piping plover.
Grassland Ecological Area California Grasslands Wildlife Management Area Largest remaining contiguous block of freshwater wetlands in California - marsh, riparian corridors, vernal pool complexes, wet meadows, native uplands. Several hundred thousand wintering waterbirds
Tijuana River Natl Estuarine
Research Reserve
California Tijuana River Natl Wildlife Refuge One of few unfragmented estuaries and coastal lagoons in southern California; sensitive habitats - sand dunes, vernal pools, mudflats, tidal channels. Critical habitat for nationally endangered species

 

Last updated: April 18, 2014