National Wildlife Refuge
|State Road 402 (5 miles east of Titusville)
Titusville, FL 32782
Phone Number: 321-861-0667
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
|American Avocets are just one of the migratory birds that visit Merritt Island NWR in the winter. Hundreds of thousands of migratory birds use the refuge from Oct. to March.|
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (MINWR) headquarters is located five miles east of U.S. 1 in Titusville, Florida. The Refuge, which is an overlay of the John F. Kennedy Space Center, was established in August 1963 to provide a buffer zone for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the quest for space exploration. Approximately one half the Refuge's 140,000 acres consist of brackish estuaries and marshes. The remaining lands consist of coastal dunes, scrub oaks, pine forests and flatwoods, and palm and oak hammocks.
The coastal location of MINWR, with its seven distinct habitat types and position between the subtropic and temperate zones contribute to the Refuge's importance as a major wintering area for migratory birds. Over 500 species of wildlife inhabit the Refuge with 16 currently listed as federally threatened or endangered. Several wading bird rookeries, approximately 10 active bald eagle nests, numerous osprey nests, up to 400 manatees and an estimated 2,500 Florida scrub jays can be found on the Refuge.
The objectives of MINWR are to provide habitat for migratory birds, to protect endangered and threatened species, to provide habitat for natural wildlife diversity, and to provide opportunities for environmental education, interpretation, and compatible wildlife-oriented recreation. In addition, as part of a complex, MINWR administers Lake Wales Ridge and St. John's National Wildlife Refuges.
Getting There . . .
From I-95: take Exit 220 (SR 406, Garden St.) east through Titusville. Cross over the Indian River Lagoon. The Refuge entrance sign and information kiosk are located on the east side of the Indian River Lagoon. Refuge maps and brochures are available at the kiosk. Continue east for 4 miles to reach the visitor information center, located on the right side of the road.
From U.S. 1: follow U.S. 1 to Titusville. At the intersection with SR 406 (Garden St.), turn east. Cross over the Indian River Lagoon and follow the above directions.
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Management of the water levels within the Refuge's 76 impoundments is strategic for enhancing the habitat for a variety of wildlife species including migratory birds, wading birds and shorebirds. Prescribed fire is instrumental in maintaining fire dependent/fire influenced communities at the Refuge, including forests and scrub habitats. Chemical and mechanical control of invasive exotic species including Brazilian pepper, melaleuca, and Australian pine is applied to provide space for native plants.
In addition, the thinning of pine stands is conducted to improve bald eagle nesting habitat. Wildlife surveys are conducted for several species of wildlife annually. Public education and outreach programming is conducted to help instill conservation ethics.
In 2002, The Sendler Education Pavilion was opened to accommodate environmental education programming for school children. The Refuge has an active law enforcement division to protect both wildlife habitat and the visiting public. Maintaining and enhancing productive partnerships with NASA, state agencies, local agencies and other federal agencies is also a primary management tool.