About the Refuge

About West Sister Island NWR

West Sister Island National Wildlife Refuge is located in the western basin of Lake Erie. The island is home to the largest blue heron and great egret rookery in the U.S. Great Lakes and is also home to black-crowned night herons and snowy egrets.

In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established West Sister Island "as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. . . ," and it was specifically designated to protect the largest wading bird nesting colony on the U.S. Great Lakes. The refuge is jointly owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Staff at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge manage the island as a wilderness area, as provided under the Wilderness Act. West Sister Island is Ohio's only Wilderness Area.

To protect this vital nesting area, access is permitted for research only.


Refuge Contact Information:

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
14000 West State Route 2
Oak Harbor, OH 43449

Visitor Center Hours
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
7 days a week, closed some federal holidays


Office Hours
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday - Friday
Closed federal holidays