About the Refuge


Great White Heron NWR

Great White Heron NWR was established in 1938 as a haven for great white herons, migratory birds, and other wildlife.  The refuge consists of almost 200,000 acres of open water and islands, and is known locally as the "backcountry."  The refuge provides critical nesting, feeding, and resting areas for hundreds of species of birds and sea turtles.

The refuge was created to protect great white herons from extinction since the population was decimated by the demand for feathered hats in the early 1900's.  Protection of great white herons was successful, and these magnificent, powder-white birds can be observed feeding on tidal flats around backcountry islands.

Wildlife dependent activities are allowed; these include saltwater fishing, boating (with some restrictions), snorkeling and scuba diving, wildlife observation and photography, interpretation, and environmental education.