Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is located where the freshwater of the Nisqually River meets the saltwater of south Puget Sound, creating the Nisqually River Delta. The delta is a biologically-rich and diverse area that supports a variety of habitats including the estuary, freshwater wetlands and riparian woodlands. It is considered the last unspoiled major estuary in Puget Sound. The Nisqually Delta has been designated as a National Natural Landmark because of its national significance as one of the best examples of this kind of coastal salt marsh system remaining in the North Pacific.
Nisqually Refuge is famous for the more than 275 migratory bird species that use the refuge for migration, wintering, or breeding. The refuge provides rearing and migration habitat for steelhead trout and several salmon species, and habitat for a variety of threatened and endangered species. The Black River Unit, southwest of Olympia, provides high quality habitat for Coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, migratory birds, and a diversity of other species.
The Black River is one of the largest undisturbed freshwater wetland systems remaining in western Washington. Situated between Olympia and Seattle and within 100 miles of more than 4 million people, Nisqually Refuge is visited each year by more than 200,000 people who come to enjoy and learn about these sensitive natural resources. The refuge provides environmental education programs for 8,000 school children every year.
The Mission of the National Wildlife 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.
To help plants and wildlife, refuge staff use a variety of habitat management techniques to maintain, recover or enhance plant and wildlife values. Refuge staff carefully consider any management technique and employ them in varying degrees according to the situation. Water levels are carefully monitored and controlled to foster desired plant growth. Sometimes, sensitive areas are closed to the public so that the land can recover more quickly. Prescribed burning, mowing, planting and seeding are also some of the techniques used to help native plants recover on national wildlife refuges. Standardized ground and aerial wildlife surveys and vegetation surveys are conducted on some refuges throughout the year to inventory populations and document habitat use. Units are evaluated by how well they meet habitat and wildlife use objectives.
To learn more about scientific monitoring of the delta restoration, visit the Nisqually Delta Restoration Project.