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National Wildlife Refuge

Hopewell, Chesterfield Co., VA   
E-mail: cyrus_brame@fws.gov
Phone Number: 804-829-9020
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Presquile National Wildlife Refuge
Presquile National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is one of four refuges that comprise the Eastern Virginia Rivers National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Refuge is a 1329-acre island in the James River, located approximately 20 miles south of Richmond, Virginia. Established to protect habitat for wintering waterfowl and other migratory birds, Presquile is an important component in the network of refuges on and around the Chesapeake Bay, our Nation's largest estuary. Presquile historically provided important habitat for wintering Canada geese that breed along James Bay in eastern Canada. The Refuge is also home to nesting and roosting bald eagles. The Refuge is primarily hardwood swamp, with a fringe of marsh and 300 acres of upland fields.

Getting There . . .
From Richmond, take Interstate 295 south to Route 10. Take Route 10 south/east toward Hopewell. Take a left on Route 827. Stay on 827, toward Bermuda Hundred, until you see the Refuge entrance. The gate will be locked unless prior arrangements have been made with the Refuge Complex headquarters.

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

New management techniques are being planned that will re-establish native vegetation to provide forage for wintering geese, as well as additional habitat for breeding songbirds and upland game birds. High priority species that nest on the Refuge include the bald eagle, prothonotary warbler, northern bobwhite, and grasshopper sparrow.

In order to assess the evolving biological needs of the Refuge, staff are working with conservation partners on surveys of eagle nests, waterfowl, marsh birds, songbirds, rare plants, amphibians, reptiles, small and large mammals, and insects. This information will be used to develop up-to-date management plans and strategies.

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The land within Presquile NWR was originally occupied by Native Americans. By the early 1600's English colonists had established the first settlement north of Jamestown nearby at Bermuda Hundred. William Randolph, ancestor to prominent Virginians such as Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and Robert E. Lee, moved to "Presque Isle" in 1660 and lived there for many years. Union troops occupied the area during the Battle of Petersburg. In 1952, the island was bequeathed to the U.S. Government by Dr. A.D. Williams, and became a Refuge in 1953.

Since its establishment, access to the Refuge was by ferry, operated on a cable secured at both sides of the James River shipping channel. Increased shipping and recreational boat traffic, significant maintenance costs, and concern for the safety of passengers resulted in discontinuation of the ferry for public use in 2001. A 28-foot pontoon boat now ferrys visitors to the Refuge during annually scheduled events. See the Recreation and Education section for a list of events.

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    Recreation and Education Opportunities
Environmental Education
Wildlife Observation
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Management Activities
The Refuge's 300 acres of upland was traditionally farmed for wintering Canada geese. Winter wheat, corn, sorghum, and rye were some of the crops grown for geese. In accordance with new Refuge System policies, farming is being replaced by establishment of natural habitat using native plants to provide year-round habitat for wildlife, while reducing the labor, fertilizer, and chemicals needed to produce an annual crop.

Invasive species, primarily Johnson grass and Canada thistle, have been problematic on the Refuge for years and have gotten worse in recent years. A project to control invasive plants and restore native grasslands began in 2004 and is ongoing today. Prescribed fire will play an important role in eliminating the invasive species, restoring native plants, and maintaining the habitat over the long term.

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