About the Refuge

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Where the sinuous Coquille River meets the Pacific Ocean, their cool nutrient-rich waters slowly ebb and flow over the mudflats, salt marshes, and forested wetlands at Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.


Established in 1983, Bandon Marsh Refuge is located along the picturesque southern Oregon coast near the mouth of the Coquille River and the city of Bandon. Its invertebrate-laden mudflats fuel the migration of tens of thousands of shorebirds every spring and fall, making it an essential stopover site. Young salmon and trout find sanctuary in the estuary's steep-banked tidal channels and anchored driftwood. There are two units to the Bandon Marsh NWR, totaling 889 acres: Bandon Marsh Unit and Ni-les'tun Unit.  

The Bandon Marsh Unit protects a large tract of salt marsh within the Coquille River estuary, second in size only to the Ni-les'tun Unit. Major habitats include undisturbed salt marsh, mudflat, and Sitka Spruce/Red Alder riverbank communities. These provide resting and feeding areas for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, neotropical migrants, and raptors.

The lower Coquille River estuary provides important habitat for juvenile and adult forms of anadromous fish species, including Coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead, and Cutthroat Trout.

The Ni-les'tun Unit of Bandon Marsh NWR was named by the Coquille Indian Tribe. Ni-les'tun means "small fish dam in the river", referring to the numerous fish weirs located on and adjacent to the site, which were used by ancestral Coquille for capturing salmon and other estuarine species.

Most of the land in the Ni-les'tun Unit was formerly diked lowland pasture. In 2011, thanks to efforts by Refuge staff and their partners, dikes were lowered and tidegates were removed to restore over 400 acres of tide marsh, making it the largest tide marsh restoration project in Oregon. Other habitats of the Ni-les'tun Unit include intertidal marsh, forested wetlands, grasslands, and upland forest.

While in Bandon, don't miss an additional visitor opportunity available at Coquille Point, a mainland unit of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. This is an excellent place to explore the beach and observe wildlife, particularly seabirds, seals and intertidal denizens. A paved trail winds over the headland and offers interpretive panels on wildlife commonly seen at Coquille Point and their adaptations to life in this harsh marine environment.

Refuge Headquarters:
South Coast Refuge Office
83673 North Bank Lane
Bandon, OR 97411
Phone: 541-347-1470
Fax: 541-347-9376