How many national wildlife refuges are named for women?
The National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), which includes more than 560 refuges and 38 wetland management districts throughout the United States and its territories, has four national refuges named for women.
Created in 1903, when President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida’s Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge, the NWRS is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The system encompasses more than 150 million acres of lands and provides a habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species and more than 1,000 species of fish.
Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge, New York
Located near Southampton, Long Island, New York, The Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge was the first refuge named for a woman, back in 1954. Elizabeth Morton Tilton donated the refuge’s 187 acres to preserve the area from commercial development. Visitors to the Morton refuge will find a haven for songbirds, ducks, geese, raptors, and a number of endangered or threatened species like piping plovers, least terns, roseate terns, peregrine falcons, and loggerhead and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles.
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, Maine
Rachel Carson, a former editor with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the namesake of this Maine refuge. Carson is also considered the “first publicist” for the National Wildlife Refuge System for a series of works she published about the system. The refuge is found along 45 miles of Maine shoreline, and it protects nearly 5,000 acres of fragile, wildlife-rich coastal marshes. It is prime habitat for black ducks, the threatened piping plover, and is a resting area for harbor seals.
Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer National Wildlife Refuge, Washington
In the Western United States, on Washington’s Pacific Coast, visitors will find the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-tailed Deer. Hansen, a member of the House of Representatives and the first woman to chair an appropriations subcommittee, exerted much influence on Federal natural resource agencies. The refuge was originally established in 1972 to provide protected habitat for 230 endangered Columbian White-tailed Deer. The refuge also is a resting place for tundra swans, Canada geese, several species of ducks, waterbirds and raptors. The surrounding waters are home to salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and trout.
Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia
In 1969, on the banks of the Potomac River, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service created the first national wildlife refuge specifically established for the bald eagle. In 1964, when plans for new highway and housing developments were scheduled to destroy the area’s habitat, local resident Elizabeth Hartwell spearheaded a grassroots movement to protect the habitat. The refuges’ hardwood forests and marshes attract songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl.
National Wildlife Refuge