About Us

Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), located on the southern end of the Great Salt Lake Desert, was established March 10, 1959 by the land purchase of 2,160 acres using proceeds from Federal Duck Stamp sales, thus ensuring habitat for migrating and wintering birds within the Pacific Flyway. Fish Springs NWR became one of the over 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System - a network of lands set aside and managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service specifically for wildlife. The Refuge is named for the native Utah chub that is found throughout the Refuge springs and impoundments. Fish Springs has been a place of essential importance in meeting human and wildlife needs over the past 11,000 years and supplied necessary water and food to the once nomadic Goshute (Gosiuta) tribe as they traveled their ancestral homelands. 

Totaling 17,922 acres, the Refuge supports 10,000 acres of lush, spring-fed wetlands, a critical habitat in the arid Great Basin. These life-sustaining waters that make Fish Springs a true oasis in the desert are created by artesian pressure and hydrothermal convection along fracture zones in the Great Basin Carbonate Rock and Alluvial Aquifer. The water from the springs is brackish and warm. The springs discharge approximately 22,000 – 27,000 acre-feet of water per year, most of which is recharged from areas outside the Fish Springs Flat.

Our Mission

Each unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System is established to serve a statutory purpose that targets the conservation of native species dependent on its lands and waters. All activities on those acres are reviewed for compatibility with this statutory purpose. 

Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge was established for use as an unaltered sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds.

Our History

Since 1934, Fish Springs was studied several times as a possible refuge; however, it was not seriously considered until 1958 when the acquisition of the land was approved to establish a National Wildlife Refuge.

Fish Springs area played a part in many important historic activities including being a home and resupplying spot for the nomadic Goshute, and the resupplying post for the Pony Express, Central Overland Stage, and the Lincoln Highway.

Other Facilities in this Complex

Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge and Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge have similar habitat conservation needs, and combining these areas assists in providing consistency and effectively uses human and capital resources for both locations.