About the Refuge

Aerial view of the refuge.

The refuge is not open to the public. Due to fragile habitats and safety concerns associated with its former use as a bombing range, public access is prohibited. Unauthorized entry is a federal offense and is punishable by fine and possibly imprisonment.


Plum Tree Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was officially established in 1972 “for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds”. It is an important stopover site to migratory birds as they travel up and down the Atlantic Flyway. In addition, the 3,500 acre refuge provides protected breeding habitat for Federal and State-listed threatened and endangered species as well as many migrating bird species. Hundreds of native plant and animal species thrive in the expansive wetlands, forests, and bay shore.

The refuge is encompassed in a number of areas designating special conservation status:

Marine Protected Areas (MPA)

Plum Tree Island NWR was a charter member selected into the MPA national system of sites identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as representing the nation’s diverse natural and cultural marine resources.

Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance

The refuge was listed based on its rich diversity of estuarine habitats and associated fish and wildlife.

Western Shore Marshes Important Bird Area

This 12,590-acre corridor highlights the habitat value to an unusually large number of avian species. Significant populations of breeding birds, including Clapper Rail, Seaside Sparrows, Marsh Wrens, American Black Duck, and American Oystercatchers support the need for such a designation. As the largest contiguous salt marsh in the lower Chesapeake Bay, Plum Tree Island NWR and the Fish and Wildlife Service hold the most land within the IBA.

Contact Us

Administrative Office/Eastern Virginia Rivers NWRC Sub-Office
11116 Kimages Road
Charles City, VA 23030

Directions: Turn north onto Kimages Road (Route 658) from John Tyler Memorial Highway (Route 5). Proceed approximately 1 mile and turn right into the Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery Campus. The refuge office is located in the fourth brick building. Hours are variable, call prior to visiting.