One of the last places we visited before moving to Oregon was the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Our park pass covers this National Refuge so no fee was required to enter! The Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife preserve operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on the Nisqually River Delta near Puget Sound in northwestern Thurston County, Washington and northwestern Pierce County, Washington.The refuge is located just off Interstate 5, between the cities of Tacoma and Olympia. It was a fun Saturday exploring the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.
This area has been set aside for wildlife and if you are interested in birding this is an excellent place to see lots of birds. The refuge was established in 1974 to protect the delta and its diversity of fish and wildlife habitats. Birds on their migrations north and south use the refuge as a stopover to feed and rest before continuing their migration.
Exploring the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is easy. There are four miles of trails that are open from sunrise to sunset. The trails are flat and easily accessible by anyone. The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail is 4 miles round trip from the visitors center.
We had driven by the wildlife refuge numerous times and I’m so glad we finally took the time to stop and explore. We saw numerous ducks.
There were beautiful herons along the water’s edge.
The scenery was stunning and I imagine it would be fun to explore this area any time of year.
We also spotted so many eagles. Many of them immature.
My husband was lucky enough to see a snake on a log. He has the best eyes for spotting wildlife.
It was fun to see all the different kinds of birds and it was also interesting to find out the history of the river delta. In 1904 the Brown Farm Dike, five miles long, was created to protect farmland from tidal surge. While this may have protected farmland it resulted in a loss of important habitat for young fish, birds and marine mammals. In 2009 a new 10,000-foot dike was installed behind the old dike and four miles of the old Brown Far Dike were removed. This enabled the tidal flows to reclaim 762 acres to the estuary.
My goals for this year have been to explore various parks. If you ever find yourself near this area I would encourage you to stop and spend some time exploring the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.