About Us

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1953 and contains 10,000 acres of marsh, bottomland hardwood forest and grasslands. It was authorized by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act “...for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds.” Additional purposes designated under the Refuge Recreation Act are “…incidental fish and wildlife-oriented recreational development, the protection of natural resources, and the conservation of endangered and threatened species.”

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is designated as an Important Bird Area for its global significance to migratory waterfowl.

Our Mission

The mission of the refuge is to preserve and manage an undeveloped expanse of floodplain forest, marshes, rivers and associated habitat within an agricultural and urban landscape through habitat management, encouraging public stewardship, educational programs and private land activities.

Our Purpose

More than 280 species of migratory birds and more than 100 songbirds have been observed on the refuge. The refuge supports numerous species of colonial nesting waterbirds such as ring-billed and herring gulls, great blue herons and great egrets. The refuge is home to several pairs of nesting eagles. In the spring and summer visitors may see eastern fox snakes (non-venomous) or white-tailed deer while on the trails. Muskrats are active throughout the year, swimming along drainage and the wetlands. Visitors might observe American white pelicans resting during the summer in Maankiki Marsh.

Our History

1953 - When established, the refuge and the associated state area were envisioned as providing a place where waterfowl from the Saginaw Bay area could be held longer before they migrated to southern Illinois. Since its establishment, the refuge has shown its importance to migrating waterfowl, including the Southern James Bay population of Canada geese and American black ducks, the production of waterfowl, and for other wildlife.

1995 - The refuge completed the additions final environmental assessment establishing a total acquisition boundary targeting 16,600 acres.

2014 - The refuge received its neighboring property formerly known as the Germania Golf Club from The Nature Conservancy (gifted from The Dow Chemical Company). The property consists of 135 acres with 4.5 miles of asphalt cart paths. (Excluding: The former Club House now inhabited by the Saginaw County Community Mental Health Authority: Albert & Woods Professional Development & Business Center).

2016 - The refuge completed restoration of roughly 1,000 acres of Maankiki Marsh. At the time, it was the largest wetland restoration project to take place in the prior 70 years within the region.

Other Facilities in this Complex

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge staff also manage Michigan Islands National Wildlife Refuge consisting of the Lake Huron islands: Scarecrow, Big and Little Charity and Sugar Islands and Crooked.

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge staff also manage Michigan Wetland Management District consisting of: Schlee, Malan, Kinney and Edger Waterfowl Production Areas.