BILLY FRANK JR. NISQUALLY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
The Billy Frank, Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, on the Nisqually River Delta in southern Puget Sound, was established in 1974 for the protection of migratory birds. Three thousand acres of salt and freshwater marshes, grasslands, riparian, and mixed forest habitats provide resting and nesting areas for migratory waterfowl, songbirds, raptors, and wading birds.
Billy Frank, Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is one of over 544 National Wildlife Refuges in the United States. Managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in the Department of the Interior, the National Wildlife Refuges encompass over 95 million acres of land for wildlife.
The mission of the 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.
We invite you to explore the web site or experience firsthand the many programs and events that are designed to provide visitors with a memorable Refuge experience. Enjoy your visit
A Home for Wildlife As surrounding wildlife habitat is lost to development, Billy Frank, Jr. National Wildlife Refuge has become an increasingly important place for wildlife, especially migratory birds. For some birds, Nisqually Refuge is a place to feed and rest before continuing on, while for others it is the end of their season's journey.
A Protected Estuary The Nisqually River Delta, a biologically rich and diverse area at the southern end of Puget Sound, supports a variety of habitats. Here, the freshwater of the Nisqually River combines with the saltwater of Puget Sound to form an estuary rich in nutrients and detritus. These nutrients support a web of sea life - the benefits of which extend throughout Puget Sound and beyond. Together with McAllister and Red Salmon Creeks, the Nisqually River forms one of the largest remaining relatively undisturbed estuaries in Washington. Although most major estuaries in Washington have been filled, dredged, or developed, the estuary of the Nisqually River has been set aside especially for wildlife. Waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, marsh and water birds...all are attracted to the mosaic of habitats found on the Nisqually Delta. A five-mile long dike currently separates saltwater habitats from freshwater habitats and creates a land of diversity for more than 300 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. By walking the 5-1/2 mile Brown Farm Dike Trail visitors can view a variety of habitat types and the wildlife that live in them.
Saltmarsh and Open Mudflats Outside the dike are saltmarshes and open mudflats washed by the changing tides of Puget Sound. The salty water brings rich nutrients to the variety of clams, crabs, worms, and shrimp living in the mud, while these creatures in turn feed shorebirds, gulls, ducks, and herons.
Freshwater Marsh and Open Grasslands Inside the dike freshwater marshes and open grasslands provide a quiet resting and wintering area for up to 20,000 migratory waterfowl. The grasslands teem with mice and voles, which are a ready meal for hawks, owls, and coyotes. Thick cattails and sedges surround the freshwater marshes and give protection to marsh wrens, soras, bitterns, and salamanders.
Riparian Woodland and Brush Habitats A walk on the Brown Farm Dike Trail also takes visitors through riparian woodland and brush habitats. Careful observers may see winter wrens, red-legged frogs, pileated woodpeckers, and even great horned owls among the large cottonwood, alder, and big leaf maple trees growing along the Nisqually River. Along McAllister Creek, crabapples, roses, and blackberries provide a smorgasbord for songbirds. Watch for evening grosbeaks, cedar waxwings, and finches.
Billy Frank, Jr. National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset. The trails are open only for walking pets are not allowed. Bring your binoculars, spotting scope, and camera, and enjoy your visit
Travelling the waters of the Nisqually River or McAllister Creek by boat is sure to reveal natural wonders that cannot be experienced on land by foot.
Boating is permitted in waters outside the Brown Farm Dike. Canoeists, kayakers, and small boaters should beware of hazardous tides, shallow waters, wind, and weather conditions around the Nisqually Delta. There is a boat speed restriction of 5mph in all Refuge waters.
The nearest public boat ramps are Luhr Beach located at the mouth of McAllister Creek, and Nisqually HNDCP located at river mile 3.7 on the Nisqually River south of I-5 at 6th Ave SE. Both of these sites require a Vehicle Use Permit issued by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.