The 30,000-acre Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1994 to protect what was once a much larger, frequently flooded, bottomland hardwood forest ecosystem along the Trinity River. It is one of only 14 priority bottomland sites identified for protection in the Texas Bottomland Hardwood Preservation Program. Although not fully surveyed, the refuge contains more than 635 plant species and another 350 vertebrate species, including more than 200 birds, 60 fish, 40 mammals, and 50 reptiles and amphibians. Over 980 moth species have been documented within one acre of the refuge administrative office. The refuge primarily consists of a broad, flat floodplain, but also features numerous sloughs, oxbows, artesian wells, and tributaries.
The bottomland hardwood forest in Liberty County is rich in biodiversity as well as history. The Spanish established Nuestra Señora de la Luz Mission and San Agustín de Ahumada Presidio in 1756; the mission was for the Akokisa and Bidai Indians. Spanish maps in 1757 showed the Atascosito settlement and a Spanish military road known as the Atascosito Road, which crossed the Trinity River near the present site of Liberty. Ten years later the Marqués de Rubí included the area in his tour of inspection, but parts of the mission were destroyed by a storm in 1766 and the presidio was abandoned in 1772. According to some sources, a trading-post settlement named Arkokisa or Arkosisa (variants of Akokisa) existed from roughly 1770 to 1790 near what later became the town of Liberty.
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.
The purpose of Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge is for the conservation, management and restoration of the wetlands of the Trinity River floodplain in order to maintain the public benefits they provide for present and future generations of Americans.
We serve as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife, and as an inviolate sanctuary for migratory birds. The Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Act uses money from Duck Stamp sales to purchase refuge lands. Many lands purchased with Duck Stamp funds were defined as inviolate sanctuaries. These lands, under most circumstances, must be at least partially closed to migratory bird hunting to allow birds a place of refuge and protection where they cannot be harmed.
The purpose is also to conserve fish, wildlife and plants which are listed as endangered or threatened species.
January 4, 1994 – The refuge was established to preserve the hardwood bottom land for migratory birds and other wildlife.
February 3, 2000 – The refuge purchased the Champion Lake property, which includes the lake, pier, and pollinator garden.
February 27, 2012 – The refuge office moved into its permanent office space on the refuge.
March 17, 2016 - Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell came to visit!