Plum Tree Island National Wildlife Refuge is a located in the Lower Chesapeake Bay. There are no roads, modern facilities, electric, potable water, phones, or mail service on the refuge. The bulk of the refuge is land formerly used as a bombing range. Hunting opportunities are available seasonally. Click the "learn more about visiting" link below for more information.
Due to sensitive habitats and safety concerns associated with past uses (bombs and contaminants,) public access is prohibited.
Location and Contact Information
Plum Tree Island National Wildlife Refuge encompasses the largest contiguousecosystem in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Located along the Atlantic Flyway, the refuge offers diverse salt marshes, tidal streams, and wooded ridges that support fish, waterfowl, marsh and wading birds, and shorebirds. Serene shorelines offer secluded habitat for breeding and nesting wildlife, including the northern diamondback terrapin.
The refuge offers a rare opportunity for residents and visitors of the Hampton Roads area to safely enjoy expansive views of abundant wildlife thriving in these important, vulnerable, and scarce salt marshes. In partnership with others, the refuge’s wildlife habitats support the rich traditions of hunting, fishing, and boating in the Chesapeake Bay.
What We Do
We conserve the coastal estuarine ecosystem to sustain high ecological integrity for the benefit of native flora and fauna, with emphasis on priority refuge resources of concern, within the lower Chesapeake Bay.
We provide safe and compatible wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities for visitors to connect with nature and foster enhanced stewardship of the lower Chesapeake Bay and the Refuge System.
We cultivate partnerships to further conservation, education, and interpretation of the refuge’s natural and cultural resources, as well as the mission of the Refuge System.
Plum Tree Island is one of many important migratory bird stopover sites along the Atlantic Flyway, providing protected breeding habitat for State-listed threatened and endangered species, as well as many neotropical migrant bird species.
The refuge offers an abundance of quality habitats that support nesting American black ducks, clapper rails, willets, northern harriers, and northern diamond-backed terrapins in high numbers.
Plum Tree Island habitat consists of tidal, which is considered one of the most productive ecosystems in the world.
Projects and Research
Plum Tree Island NWR is home to a number of wildlife resources found in the lower Chesapeake Bay including both federally and state listed species. Its pristine marsh habitat acts as nursery for many fish and roosts for migratory birds year round.
Refuge staff conducts a diverse set of surveys to monitor and manage the habitat and wildlife found on Plum Tree Island NWR. These surveys include estimating the population of the federally threatened northeastern beach tiger beetle, monitoring nests of state listed shorebirds such as the American oystercatcher, least tern and black skimmers, surveying for diamondback terrapin use throughout the refuge, winter waterfowl surveys as well as observing various indices to monitor saltmarsh health.