Refuge History

Salt marsh - USFWS.

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge falls within the Broadkill Hundred and Cedar Creek Hundred of Sussex County, or formerly referred to as Hoorenkill or Whorekill County. Translated from the Dutch word Priume Hoek meaning Plum Point, Prime Hook was named by European settlers in the 17th century for the land's abundance of purple beach plums.

In 1963, Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge was established under the authority of the Migratory Bird Conservation Act for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or any other management purpose, expressly for migratory birds.

The refuge began as a satellite of its sister refuge to the north, Bombay Hook. With a small and dedicated staff, the refuge began management of the land especially for wildlife. In 1986, the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel was reintroduced to the refuge. With the help of volunteers and community support, a Refuge Headquarters building was completed in 1997. That year also marked the creation of the Friends of Prime Hook, who have been assisting the refuge in its endeavors ever since.

In 2000, Prime Hook became an independent refuge. The refuge has expanded to over 10,000 acres with one of the largest impoundments on the East Coast. Reorganizing efforts in 2007 combined Bombay Hook and Prime Hook to become the Coastal Delaware National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The refuge is located in a key position in the Atlantic flyway and each year, hosts hundreds of thousands of migratory birds. Today, the Refuge's primary objectives continue to focus on providing habitat and protection for waterfowl, waterbirds and other migratory birds, and endangered species; and to insure the availability of these resources to the American people for their enjoyment now and in the future.