Situated in central-western Arizona along the lower Colorado River, the Bill Williams River extends a short 40 miles before emptying into the Colorado River at Lake Havasu. A portion of the river and its unique habitat are protected within the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge, offering a glimpse into what this landscape looked like hundreds of years ago.
Earliest written records of the area come from Spanish explorers who traveled through here as early as 1598. Along with the western explorers that followed, they took note of the ecologically rich landscape, including documentation of miles-thick stands of cottonwood and willow trees along the river’s banks, as well as the abundance of mesquite above the river. Today, the refuge holds one of the last stands of naturally regenerated cottonwood-willow forest along the lower Colorado River. As a designated Globally Important Bird Area, the refuge is one of the last ecologically functioning river habitats in the southwest United States. Though small, the refuge has retained nearly all of the original terrestrial wildlife species found here prior to settlement by Europeans, including at least six federally listed threatened or endangered species.
In 1993 it was decided that 6,100 acres of the Havasu Lake National Wildlife Refuge would be managed as a separate refuge due to its uniqueness and diversity of habitat. It became the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge. It is one of more than 560 national wildlife refuges, a national network of lands and waters set aside and managed for the benefit of wildlife and you.
The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management and, where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.
The purpose of Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge is to serve as a resting place and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.
Everywas created for a special purpose. Some were created to protect migratory birds, others to protect threatened or endangered species or unique habitats, while others fulfill other purposes. Refuges are special places where wildlife comes first. All activities allowed on refuges must be evaluated to make sure each activity will not conflict with the reason the refuge was established.
January 22, 1941 – A refuge was established within Havasu Lake National Wildlife Refuge as a breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.
1977 – A large tract of land was purchased from The Nature Conservancy and incorporated into the refuge.
June 9, 1993 – The Service designated the refuge as a separatebecause of its different resource management needs from Havasu Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was officially designated the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge.