Harbor Island National Wildlife Refuge consists of two islands, Harbor and Standerson Islands. These islands are in Potagannissing Bay, Lake Huron, near Drummond Island on the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They are 3.5 miles south of the Canada border. In 1983, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased the 695-acre Harbor Island from The Nature Conservancy as part of the Unique Ecosystems program, effectively starting the refuge. In December 2019, the agency purchased Standerson Island, a 25-acre landmass located northwest of Harbor Island. This expanded the refuge to 720-acres.
Refuge habitats include a marsh-lined harbor, sandy beaches and mature stands of balsam fir, white cedar, paper birch, sugar maple and red oak. The gently rolling terrain of the island peaks around 100-feet above lake level. Resident wildlife species include ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare, white-throated sparrows, white-tailed deer, gray jays and magnolia warblers.
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.
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 another special purpose. 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 founded.
Harbor Island National Wildlife Refuge was founded in 1983. The purpose of the refuge is the conservation, management and restoration of the fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.
1983 – The refuge was established as part of the Unique Ecosystems program.
2019 – Standerson Island was added to the refuge.
Other Facilities in this Complex
Harbor Island National Wildlife Refuge is part of a complex of refuges in northern Michigan and is managed by the staff of Seney National Wildlife Refuge. The complex also includes Huron National Wildlife Refuge, Kirtland’s Warbler Wildlife Management Area and Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge, which is comanaged with Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.