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Pelican Island
National Wildlife Refuge

Photo of brown pelican in water
4055 Wildlife Way
Vero Beach, FL   32963
E-mail: pelicanisland@fws.gov
Phone Number: 772-581-5557
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Brown Pelican
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Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pelican Island holds a unique place in American history, because on March 14, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt designated it as the Nation's first National Wildlife Refuge to protect brown pelicans and other native birds nesting on the island. This was the first time the federal government set aside land for the sake of wildlife. The Refuge celebrates its Centennial Anniversary in 2003 and now the refuge system consists of more than 530 refuges on nearly 95 million acres of our nation's most important wildlife habitats.

Getting There . . .
From I-95, take Exit 156 towards Sebastian via CR 512 to US 1. There are opportunities to view the historic island's bird life on guided boat tours through local tour operators or kayak. There are 2 local tour operators off US 1, and one located in Sebastian Inlet State Park off of A1A. Contact the Indian River Chamber of Commerce for more information by calling 772/567-3491 or visit http://vero-beach.fl.us/chamber/visitor.html and look at their recreation pages under "Fishing and Watersports."

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Pelican Island is near the town of Sebastian, on Florida's east central coast in the most biologically diverse estuary in the United States, the Indian River Lagoon. Pelican Island was first protected as a 5.5-acre refuge, but through the efforts of concerned citizens, the State of Florida, management agreements, conservation easements and outright purchase of mangrove islands, uplands, and submerged land surrounding the island, the Refuge has expanded to over 5,375 acres. These valuable additions provide enhanced and restored marsh and lagoon habitat for over 100 species of birds, nine species of threatened and endangered species, and through the support of other agencies, provides the public with opportunities to understand and appreciate the values of this refuge. The primary objective of the refuge is to protect the historic significance of this national landmark. Through the Centennial Celebration of the Refuge and the National Wildlife Refuge System, we hope to bring to light the significance of the role these public lands play in conservation of wildlife and natural areas for the future.

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Management Activities
The management of more than 5,000 acres of diverse habitats requires a variety of management tools that range from conducting wildlife surveys to exotic vegetation removal. If allowed to, these exotic plants outcompete many native plants that provide food and habitat for the native wildlife. In addition to the lands purchased by the refuge, the buffer lands surrounding the refuge was acquired through State lease agreements, conservation easements, and donations. Therefore, public planning workshops and close coordination with local land-protection agencies throughout the year consistently support the refuge to achieve its management goals. Outreach and interpretive talks are conducted throughout the year to give visitors the opportunity to view wildlife and learn about the management goals. Law enforcement also plays a role in protecting the island, which is a closed area due to its year-round use by many species of birds.

Habitat restoration is underway on the buffer lands that protect the boundary of the Refuge from encroaching development. Starting with efforts to stabilize the islands shoreline, acquire additional habitat, restore wetland and upland habitats and control the spread of exotic plants, the refuge is actively protecting and enhancing the lagoon habitat with a cooperative spirit, and sharing accomplishments through quarterly Pelican Island Working Group meetings.