About the Refuge


The refuge was established in 1931 to provide wintering habitat for migratory birds. It is one of the oldest refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System. It encompasses over 80,000 acres spread out between Wakulla, Jefferson, and Taylor counties, and includes about 43 miles along the Gulf Coast of northwest Florida. It is part of the North Florida Refuges Complex.

The refuge includes coastal marshes, islands, tidal creeks and estuaries of seven north Florida rivers, and is home to a diverse community of plant and animal life. The refuge also has strong ties to a rich cultural past, and is home to the St. Marks Lighthouse, which was built in 1842 (current tower) and is still in use today.

  • Over 17,000 acres are protected under the Federal Wilderness Act.
  • Longleaf Pine Land Management Research and Demonstration Area;
  • Globally Important Bird Area
  • Outstanding Florida Waters
  • Class 1 Air Quality area


The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge will be a model for conserving the natural diversity of plants and animals, preserving cultural resources, and providing opportunities for research, environmental education, and quality outdoor recreation. The refuge will link other north Florida wild lands with vital habitat for threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, and resident wildlife, and it will protect the rich resources of Apalachee Bay. Conservation of the natural health and beauty of the refuge is our promise to the community and future generations.



Meet the National Wildlife System

Meet the National Wildlife System (pdf version)