Habitat

PL-PI top-USFWS Davis

In one of the earliest written records of Protection Island, Captain George Vancouver described the landscape "as enchantingly beautiful as any of the most elegantly finished pleasure grounds in Europe."  In subsequent years habitats on the island were tilled to plant crops, over grazed by livestock, used for bombing practice by the Navy and bulldozed to create hundreds of home sites for a large subdivision.  Since designation as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1982, the island has been in recovery.  As habitats slowly regenerate, Refuge staff work to repair the damage.

  • Shoreline

    List-PI shoreline-Robinson

    Protection Island is ringed by a shoreline of sand and gravel with driftwood in a tangled spine at the high tide line.  At the west and east ends of the island Kanem and Violet Point Spits are formed by soil eroding down from the high bluffs and carried into place by longshore currents.  The shoreline provides important breeding areas for birds such as pigeon guillemots who nest in the jumbled driftwood and black oystercatchers who make imperceptible nests from shells and pebbles.

  • Sandy Bluff

    List-PI sandy bluff-USFWS

    The bluffs surrounding the island are prime habitat for breeding rhinoceros auklets and tufted puffins.  Hundreds of the birds' burrows riddle the face of the bluffs.  The bluffs are composed of glacial deposits that are periodically eroded by wave action at the base, creating unstable conditions above.  In the past, this erosion was exacerbated by overgrazing and the introduction of non-native plants.  The removal of grazing animals and the restoration of native plant communities to the island will help to renew the natural rate of erosion, stabilizing this important habitat for the birds.

  • Grassland

    List-PI grassland-Davis

    The island was once topped with a luxurious prairie of native grasses and flowers.  Today a few native plants survive on a plateau dominated by exotic grasses.  Efforts to restore the grassland to its original glory are currently underway.  Many species will benefit from the prairie restoration including golden paintbrush, camas, savanna sparrow, and northern harrier. 

  • Forest

    List-PI forest-Davis

    A small Douglas-fir forest provides a natural windbreak along the northern edge of the Island's upper plateau.  The forest provides important habitat for bald eagles who breed on the island.  Woodpeckers and great horned owls can also be found in the forest.