National Wildlife Refuge System
Back to Index Previous Next
tides entering Nisqually
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Washington celebrated the completion of the largest estuary restoration in the Pacific Northwest. With the removal of the last portion of a dike in October, water in the Nisqually estuary connected again with the tides of Puget Sound..
Credit: USFWS

Cause for Celebration

Look for special refuge celebrations across the country in March when the National Wildlife Refuge System turns 107. Among those celebrating will be Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida—the first National Wildlife Refuge, created by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. Roosevelt designated the island as a sanctuary to protect brown pelicans and other island birds from market hunters who were wiping out the birds to sell their feathers to hat makers.

Thanks in part to Roosevelt’s action and to the federal government’s 1972 ban on the pesticide DDT, the pelican recovered enough to earn removal from the list of threatened and endangered species. There are now 650,000 brown pelicans in Florida, the Gulf and Pacific Coasts, the Caribbean and Latin America.

The celebration will take place during the 18th Annual Pelican Island Wildlife Festival on Saturday, March 13, one of Florida’s most popular wildlife events. Its purpose is to help citizens to better understand nature through environmental education and recreation. Upwards of 8,000 people come out for interpretive programs featuring live birds of prey and reptiles, pontoon boat and kayak tours to Pelican Island, live music, environmental exhibitors and children’s activities.

The Refuge System today consists of 551 refuges and 37 wetland management districts, covering 150 million acres of land and water wildlife habitat.

Other notable Refuge System achievements include:

  • Welcoming more than 41 million refuge visitors a year generating $1.7 billion for local communities and 27,000 private sector jobs;
  • Expanding the Friends Group movement, a volunteer citizens’ support network for refuges, to more than 200 nonprofit organizations;
  • Increasing efforts to control invasive species, involving thousands of citizens across the country;
  • Restoring the largest estuary in the Pacific Northwest at the Nisqually River National Wildlife Refuge and the most significant salt marsh on the West Coast at San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge; and
  • Demonstrating a commitment to youth, with 750,000 students and teachers attending environmental education programs on refuges each year.


To learn more about the Pelican Island event, contact Joanna Webb at 772–562–3909 ext. 258, or visit

For more information on the refuge, visit or contact 772–562–3909.

A complete list of refuge activities and special events is available at:

Back to Index

June 19, 2012m1 -->June 19, 2012
June 19, 2012m1 -->June 19, 2012