Snow-Covered Pines at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.

National Wildlife Refuges in the Mid-Atlantic Region

Snow-Covered Pines at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.
Snow-Covered Pines at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.

For 2019, one thing I would like to do is go to several National Wildlife Refuges in the Mid-Atlantic region that I have yet to visit. There are many refuges to choose from. The refuges are, I think, generally much smaller in acreage than many national and state parks. The refuges also have less visitors and can be less crowded. At least that is what I have experienced.

[Please note: Due to the federal government shutdown (1/9/2019), refuges may be closed or unstaffed, compromising service and safety.]

National Wildlife Refuges are a naturalist’s kind of place. At wildlife refuges, you can experience an actual working wetland or a dry meadow. The visitor centers of refuges are focused on education with exhibits, publications, and programs. There are often photography blinds setup at some of the best spots on the refuge for taking photographs. Picnic tables areas are often available for eating lunch.

Pastel sky highlights migratory birds at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.
Pastel sky highlights migratory birds at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.

Unlike national and state parks, National Wildlife Refuges do not allow camping.  But refuges do allow hunting and fishing.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers the National Wildlife Refuge System. This United States Federal government agency is charged with the conservation, protection, and enhancement of fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats. The NWR also protects ecosystem services such as clean air and water. The United States has more than 560 refuges, 38 wetland management district and other protected areas encompassing 150 million acres of land and water from the Caribbean to the remote Pacific. Every state and territory has at least one National Wildlife Refuge. A refugee is within an hour drive of most major U.S. metropolitan areas.

National wildlife refuges provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species, and more than 1000 species of fish. Migrating birds use refuges on their annual migrations.

Pond at john Heinz NWR at Tinicum in Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Donna L. Long. All rights reserved.
Pond at john Heinz NWR at Tinicum in Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Donna L. Long. All rights reserved.

The only National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia is the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum here in the city. Tinicum is on the Atlantic Coastal Plain in South Philadelphia near I-95 and the Philadelphia International Airport. This flat sandy plain runs straight across through New Jersey to the Atlantic Ocean. Tinicum is a tidal marshland. It is dominated my water and grasses. Bald Eagles have nested at Tinicum in the past years.

There are many National Wildlife Refuges is in the Mid-Atlantic region. Visit the Fish and Wildlife Service website to find refuges near you. https://www.fws.gov/refuges/

Sunset at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.
Sunset at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.

 

Delaware

  • Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
  • Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

New Jersey

  • Edwin  B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Brigantine division
  • Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
  • Cape May National Wildlife Refuge
  • Supanaw National Wildlife Refuge
  • Walkill River National Wildlife Refuge
  • Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
  • Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
  • Amagansett National Wildlife Refuge
  • Conscience Point National Wildlife Refuge
  • Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge
  • Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge
  • Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge
  • Target Rock National Wildlife Refuge
  • Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge
  • Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge

 

Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.
Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.

Pennsylvania

  • John Heinz national wildlife refuge at Tinicum
  • Erie National Wildlife Refuge
  • Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Winter in the Great Dismal Swamp NWR in Virigina.USFWS/public domain.
Winter in the Great Dismal Swamp NWR in Virigina.USFWS/public domain.

Virginia

  • Great dismal Swamp National wildlife refuge
  • Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
  • Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge
  • Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge
  • Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Nesck National Wildlife Refuge
  • Featherstone National Wildlife Refuge
  • Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • James River National Wildlife Refuge
  • Nansemond National Wildlife Refuge
  • Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • Plum Tree Island National Wildlife Refuge
  • Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge
  • Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge

 

Aerial view of island at Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.
Aerial view of island at Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge. USFWS/public domain.

West Virginia

  • Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge
  • Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

5 comments

  1. Donna, that is a ambitious list! Wishing you the best for your discoveries at each. I hear and agree with your caution/concern about the affects of the shutdown. An unfortunate situation for all living creatures…

    • Hi, Jane
      I am glad you like he post. I don’t plan on visiting all the refuge’s in one year. I’ll try to see maybe one or two new ones a year. I have something to do for the next ten years! It’s just knowing all the options that’s useful. Let’s hope the shutdown ends soon.

      • Yes, I do hope the shutdown ends soon. Scary that you replied on the 12th, and here I am on the 23rd with my chat back… and the Country is still such a mess. Having your list of adventures is a positive, though. Always good to look forward. Best wishes, Donna.

      • Thank you, Jane. It is so cold here in Philly that I just stay bundled up inside. But, I am dreaming about going to some of the refugees in the spring. Hopeful in Philly, Donna

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